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^Astonishing Electrical Invention 

Protects lour Car from Thieves 

, . , Automatically! 



Thit unqutitmnihiy ti thr lurrrrit. moit incredible In- 
vention nn:( I he flrtt diicOvenei of radio! A magical, 
thouting. automatic araichman that actually 11 lar mote 
than human: Never slcrpi. rests or nth tired! Standi 



guard over your entire car from spare tire to headlights 
and itarring wheel! Endorsed by police! Approved by 
Motor Associations! Now offered an- gcnrroui 5-day lest 
butt! Tho coupon bring* full delaih. 



A Startling, Uncanny Money Maker For Agents 



(*117HAT makes it work?" "Where on earth did you 
™ get it*" "Bet you five dollars he's goi some one 
hiding in there!" It simply can't be true." A running 
lire of comment like this breaks out whenever and wher- 
ever this new invention is exhibited. And why not? 
When no one ever heard or such a startling, 
uncanny device before ! In (act few people 
would even dare to dream there could be 
such i thing ! So this, men is something 
really NEW, something to grip the imagi- 
nation of everyone, something that sells to 
every autoist on sheer novelty alone. Dis- 
tributors, "star" salesmen, every man who 
wants to double and triple his present in- 
come should note carefully the folio* ing 
facts. 

Tho Secret ol ■ Tbttt-Froof Car 

Now in this amazing new way, every car 
can be protected from theft for 24 full hours 
a day. In the garage or parked on the 
Street, if any thief so much as pulls at your 
spare tire or touches his foot to your run- 
ning board — ZOWI E < A riot of noise 
Starts instantly! And your car never shuts 
up till the ihirf leaves. And listen to this. 
Even if the thief is wise to What's up, you alone place the 
secret control button anywhere you want it around the 
car. The thief can t possibly find it. If he wastes lime 
looking for it — Bingo' He's caught and on his way to 
jail' This astonishing invention guards your snare-tire, 
head-lights and spot-lights as well as the car itself. 
Iaatalledla ■• HaotM- Coat* NotMnstoOparate 

The inventor has asked the U. S. Government to pro- 
tect his patent rights in this revolutionary discovery. 
Because of its uncanny powers and to distinguish it from 
everything else on earth this queer discovery is nop called 




A 

Mere Handful 



"Devil Dog. -- Among its amazing features is the fact that 
it can be installed by anyone in 10 minutes or less. There 
is absolutely no cost for operation. It will last as long n 
the car. Fits any car from Ford to Rolls Royce without 
adjustment or fussing. 

For introductory purposes a special 6-day 
test offer is now being made. If you arc 
interested in learning about the most as- 
tonishing invention since the radio first 
came in. use the coupon at once. II your 
present income is less than $50 a week the 
profit possibilities as our agent may aston- 
ish you. The coupon brings details of all 
offers. Mail it now, 

NORTHWEST ELECTRIC CORP. 

Dept. L. 490 
Fnkwana, So. Dakota 



I Northwest Electric Corp., 1 

■ Dept. L-490. I 

| Pukvano. So. Dakota. I 

I Ruth delaih o) your big 3-day test offer and big pfoflti i 

for apenti. 1 

I Name | 

I Addrri. — ' 



LI" 



Town _ .. Stair 

□ Chech here il inlerrilrd only in one lor yiur 
and not In agents' money-making offer. 



I 



He wants to get married 



TY7HEN Smedley came East to take a big 
W job as Sales Manager, he wanted to get 
married. Like his father and his grandfather he 
believed in early marriage; said it settled a man, 
kept him out of mischief, helped to make him 
successful in business. 

Smedley was attracted to a Boston girl; grew 
food of her and was about to propose marriage 
when the girl suddenly made it plain that she was 
x laager interested in seeing him. It was a 
blow. He put her out of his mind* 

After that there were several in whom Smedley 
lot interested. Any one of them would have 
nude Smedley a good wife. 

But Smedley never had a chance. They usually 
law him once or twice and then made excuses 
(or not seeing him again. One by one they 
dropped out of his life. ■.- 

Yet, fundamentally, the man was attractive — 
pod husband material. His buoyancy, his vigor, 
ba charm, his success, were qualities not found 
" everyday men. ' 

But he had one fault they simply couldn't 
orafaok. 

He still has it. And he is still looking for a 
C"l who will marry him. 



There is no greater barrier to pleasant personal 
and business relations than halitosis (unpleasant 
breath). It is the unforgivable social fault. 

The insidious thing about it is that the victim 
never knows when he has it. And even a good 
friend won't tell him. Ttk matter is too delicate 
to discuss. 

The one way of putting your breath beyond 
suspicion, so that you know it doesn't offend 
others, is to use full- strength Listerine as a mouth 
wash and gargle. Every morning and every night. 
And between times before meeting others. 

Listerine ends halitosis because it is a germicide* 
which allays fermentation and checks infection, 
— each a cause of odors. It is also a rapid deodor- 
ant end counteracts odors as soon as they arise. 

Keep Listerine handy in hotne and office. And 
carry it with you when you travel. It is as much 
a part of the fastidious person's toilet as the 
tooth brush. Lambert Pharmacol Company, 
St. Louis, Missouri, U. S. A. 

'While safe to uu full etvanSth In soy body cavity. 

S«rmldde which kills even the 



Listerias U to active _ 

resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (pus) and BadllL 
IVphosueotr/phold) genus In counts reusing to 3SS, 

SM.SM In IS sr 

recorded by — " 



Please mention Newsstand Gboup — Men's List, nheir answering advertisements 



5 seconds. (F 

etr answenn 





Sale the First Thursday of Each Month 



HARRY BATES, Editor 



DR. DOUGLAS If. DOLD, i 



'the Clayton Standard on a Magazine Guarantees 

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VOL. Ill, No. 2 



CONTENTS 



AUGUST, 19N 



COVER DESIGN H. W. WESSOLOWSFJ 

Painted in Water-colors from a Spue in "Tka Plant of Dread." 
THE PLANET OF DREAD R. F. STARZL 147 

A Stupid Blunder — and Mark Forepaugh Faces a Lifetime of Castaway Loneliness in the 
Savage Wetter of the Planet Inra's Monster-ridden Jungles. 

THE LORD OF SPACE VICTOR ROUSSEAU 158 

A Black Caesar Had Arisen on Eros — and All Earth Trembled at His Distant Menace. 

THE SECOND. SATELLITE EDMOND HAMILTON 175 

Earth-mem War on Frog-vampires for the Emancipation of the Human Cows of Earth's 
Second Satellite. (A Novelet.) 

SILVER DOME HARL VINCENT 192 

/• Her Deep-buried Kingdom of Theros, Phaestra Reveals the A mowing Secret of the 
Silver Dome. 

EARTH, THE MARAUDER ARTHUR J. BURKS 21t 

Deep in the Gnome-infested Tunnels nf the Moon, Sarka and Jaska Are Brought to 
Loot, the Radiant Goddess Against Whose Minions the Marauding Earth Had 
Struck in Vain. (Part Two of a Three -Part Novel.) * 

MURDER MADNESS MURRAY LEINSTER 237 

Bell Has Fought through Tremendous' Obstacles to Find and Kill The Master, Whose 
Diabolical Poison Makes Murder-mad Snakes of the Hands; and, as He Faces the 
'Monster at Last — His Own Hands Start to Writhe! (Conclusion.) 

THE FLYING CITY * H. THOMPSON RICH 2M 

From Space Came Car's Disc-city of Vada—lts Mighty, Age-old Engines Weakening— 
Its Horde of Dwarfs Hungry for the Earth! 

THE READERS' CORNER ALL OF US Z7» 

A Meeting Place for Readers of Astounding Stories. 



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laraed monthly by Pubtt&hen' Fiscal Corporative, SO Lafayette St_ Nrw York. N. Y. W. If. Clayton. Pra* 
dent; /Nathan Goldmana, Secretary. Enteral mm KCoad-ei&aa matter December 7. 1929. at the Peat Onto at 
New York. M. Y.. under Act or March Ms. " 1879. Title registered at a Trade Hark In the U. S, Patent Onto. 
Member Newatfand Group — Men's UmL For mdvertklaa' rat** addreai E. R. Crowe a Co.. Inc. A Vanderbttl 
Ave.. Mew York: or 226 North Michhran Ave.. Chicago. v 




This time Forepamgh 
was ready for it. 



The Planet of Dread 



By R. F. Starzl 



THERE was no use hiding from 
the truth. Somebody had blun- 
dered — a fatal blunder — and 
they were going to pay for it I 
Mark Forepaugh kicked the pile of 
hydrogen cylinders. Only a moment 
ago he had broken the seals — the men- 
dacious seals that 
certified to the 
world that the 
flasks were fully 
charged. And the 
flasks were emp- 
ty 1 The supply of 
this precious power gas.^which in an 
emergency should have been sufficient 
for six years, simply did not exist. 
" He walked over to the integrating 
machine, which as early as the year 
2031 had Begun to replace the older 
atomic processes, due to the shortage 



A itupid blunder — and Mark Forepaugh 
face* a lifetime of castaway loneliness in 
the oarage welter of the planet Inra's 
monitor-ridden jungle*. 



147 



of the radium series metals. It was 
bulky and heavy compared* to the 
atomic disintegrators, but it was much 
more economical and very dependable. 
Dependable — provided some thick- 
headed stock clerk at a terrestial sup- 
ply Btation did not check in empty 
hydrogen cylin- 
ders instead of 
full ones. Fore- 
paugh's Unwont- 
ed curses brought 
a smile to the 
stupid, good - na- 
tured face of his servant; Gunga — he 
who had been banished fv life from 
his native Mars for his impiety Jn 'clos- 
ing his single round eye during the 
sacred Ceremony of the Wells. 

The Earth, man was at this steaming 
hot, unhealthful trading station under 



148 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



the very shadow of the South Pole of 
the minor planet Inra for an entirely 
different reason. One of the most 
popular of his set on the Earth, an 
athletic hero, he had fallen in love, and 
the devoutly wished-for marriage was 
only prevented by lack of funds. The 
opportunity to take~ charge of this 
richly paid, though dangerous, outpost 
of civilization had been no sooner of- 
fered than taken. In another week or 
two the relief ship (was due to take 
him and his valuable collection of ex- 
otic Inranian orchids back to the Earth, 
back to a fat Sonus, Constance, and an 
assured future. 

It was a different young man who 
how stood tragically before the useless 
power plant. His slim body was 
bowed, and his clean features were 
drawn. Grimly he raked the cooling 
dust that had been forced in the inte- 
grating chamber by the electronic re- 
arrangement of the original hydrogen 
atoms — finely powdered iron and sili- 
con — the "ashes" of the last tank of, 
hydrogen 

GUNGA chuckled. 
"What's the matter?" Forepaugh 
barked. "Going crjzy already?" 

"Me, haw I Me, haw I Me thinkin'," 
Gunga rumbled. "Haw I We got, 
bawl plenty hydr'gen." He pointed to 
the low metal roof of the trading sta- 
tion. Though it was well insulated 
against sound, the place continually 
vibrated to the low murmur of the 
Inranian rains that fell interminably 
through the perpetual polar day. It 
was a rain such as is never seen on 
Earth, even in the tropics. It came in 
drops as large as a man's fist. It came 
in streams. It came in large, shattering 
masses that broke before they fell and 
filled the air with spray. There^was 
little wind, but the steady green down- 
pour of water and the brilliant continu- 
ous flashing of lightning shamed the 
dull soggy twilight produced by the 
large, hot, but hidden sun. 

"Your idea of a joke I" Forepaugh 
growled in disgust. He understood 



what Gunga's grim pleasantry referred 
to. There was-indeed an incalculable 
quantity of hydrogen at hand. If some 
means could be found to separate tjie 
hydrogen atoms from the oxygen in 
the world of water around them they 
would not lack for fuel. He thought 
of electrolysis, and relaxed with a 
sigh. There was no power. The gen- 
erators were dead, the air drier and 
cooler had ceased its rhythmic pulsing 
nearly an hour ago. Their lights were 
gone, and the automatic radio utterly 
Useless. 

"This is what comes of putting all 
youT eggs in one basket," he thought, 
and let his mind dwell vindictively on 
the engineers who had designed the 
equipment on which his life depended. 

An exclamation from Gunga startled 
him. The Martian was pointing to the 
ventilator opening, the only part of 
this strange building that was not 
hermetically sealed against the hostile 
life of Inra. A dark rim had appeared 
at its margin, a loathsome, black-green 
rim that was moving, spreading out 
It crept over the metal walls like the 
low-lying smoke of a fire, yet it was a 
solid. From it emanated a strong, 
miasmatic odor. 

"The giant mold I" Forepaugh cried. 
He rushed to his desk and took out 
his flash pistol, quickly set the localizer 
so as to cover a large area. When he 
turned he saw, to his horror, Gunga 
about to smash into the mold with his 
ax. He sent the man spinning with 
a blow to the ear. 

"Want to scatter it and start it grow- 
ing in a half-dozen places?" he snapped. 
"Here I" 

HE pulled the trigger. There waf 
a light, spiteful "ping" and for an 
instant a cone of white light stood out 
in the dim room like a solid thing. 
Then it was gone, and with it was gone 
the black mold, leaving a circular area 
of blistered paint on the wall and an 
acrid odor in the air. Forepaugh 
leaped to the ventilating louver and 
closed it tightly. 



THE PLANET OF DREAD 



149 



"It's going to be like this from now 
on," he remarked to the shaken Gunga. 
"All these things wouldn't bother us 
as long as the machinery kept the 
building dry and cool. They couldn't 
live in here. But it's getting damp and 
hot. Look at the moisture condensing 
on the ceiling I" 

Gunga gave a guttural cry of despair. 
"It knows, Boss; look I" 

Through one of the round, heavily 
framed ports it could- be seen, the lower 
part of its large, shapeless body half- 
floating in the lashing water that cov- 
ered their rocky shelf to a depth of 
several feet, the upper part spectral 
and gray. It was a giant amoeba, fully 
six feet in diameter in its present 
spheroid form, but capable of assuming 
any shape that" would be useful. It 
had an envelope of tough, transparent 
matter, and wae filled with a fluid that 
was now cloudy and then clear. Near 
the center there was a mass of darker 
matter, and this was undoubtedly the 
seat of its intelligence. 

The Earth man recoiled in horror 1 
A single cell with a brain I It was un- 
thinkable. It was a biological night- 
mare. Never before had he seen one — 
had, in fact, dismissed the stories of 
the Inranian natives as a bit of primi- 
tive superstition, had laughed at these 
gentle, stupid amphibians with whom 
he traded when the£, in theU imperfect 
language, tried to tell, him of it. 

They had called it the Ul-lul. Well, 
let it be so. It was An amoeba, and it 
was watching him. It floated in the 
downpour and watched him. With 
what? It had no eyes. No matter, it 
was watching him. And then it sud- 
denly flowed outward until it became 
a disc rocking on the waves. Again its 
fluid form changed, and by a series of 
elongations and contractions it flowed 
through the water at an incredible 
speed. It came straight for the win- 
dow, struck the thick, unbreakable 
glass with a shock that could be felt 
by the men inside. It flowed over the 
glass and over the building. It was 
trying td eat them, building and all! 



The part of its body over the port be- 
came so thin that it was almost in- 
visible. At last, its absolute limit 
reached, it dropped away, baffled, van- 
ishing amid the glare of the lightning 
and the frothing waters like the 
shadows of a nightmare. 

THE heat was intolerable and the 
air was bad. 
"Haw, we have to open vent'lator, 
Boss I" gasped the Martian. 

Forepaugh nodded grimly. It 
wouldn't do to smother either. Though 
to open the ventilator would be to in- 
vite another invasion by the black 
mold, not to mention the amoebae and 
other fabulous monsters that had up to 
now been kept at a safe distance by the 
repeller zone, a simple adaptation of a 
very old discovery. A zone of me- 
chanical vibrations, of a frequency of 
500,000 cycles per second, was created 
by a large quartz crystal in the water, 
which was electrically operated. With- 
out power, the protective zone had 
vanished. 
"We watch f" asked Gunga. 
"You bet we watch. Every minute of 
the 'day' and "night."' 

He examined the two chronometers, 
assuring himself that they were well 
wound, and congratulated himself that 
they were not dependent on the de- 
funct power plant for energy. They 
were his only means of measuring the 
passage of time. The sun, which theo- 
retically would seem to travel round 
and round the horizon, rarely suc- 
ceeded in making its exact location 
known, but appeared to shift strangely 
from side to side at the whim of the 
fog and water. 

"Th' fellas," Gfnga remarked, com- 
ing out of a study. "Why ijot come?" 
He referred to the Inranians. 

"Probably know something's wrong. 
They can tell the quartz oscillator is 
stopped. Afraid of the Ul-lul, I sup- 
pose." 

" 'Squeer," demurred the Martian. 
"Ul-lul not bother fellas." 
"You mean it doesn't follow them 



ISO 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



into the underbrush. But it would 
find tough going there. Not enough 
water; trees there, four hundred feet 
high with thorny roots and rough bark 
— they wouldn't like that. Oh no, these 
natives ought to be pretty snug in their 
dens. Why, they're as hard to catch as 
a/muskratl Don't know what a musk- 
rat is, huh? W^ell, it's the same as the 
Inranians, only different, and not so 
ugly." 

FOR the next six days they existed 
in their straitened quarters, one 
guarding while the other slept, but 
such alarms as they experienced were 
of a minor nature, easily disposed of 
by their flash pistol. It had not been 
intended for continuous service, and 
under the frequent drains it showed an 
alarming loss of power. Forepaugh re- 
peatedly warned Gunga to be more 
sparing in its use, but that worthy per- 
sisted in his practice of using it against 
every trifling invasion of the poisonous 
Inranian cave moss that threatened 
them, or the warm, soggy water-spiders 
that hopefully explored the ventilator 
shaft in search of living food. 

"Bash 'em with a broom, or some- 
thing! Never mind if it isn't nice. 
Save our flash gun for something big- 
ger" f 
Gunga only .looked distressed. 
On the seventh day their position be- 
came untenable. Some kind of sea 
creature, hidden under the ever-re- 
plenished storm waters, had found the 
concrete emplacements of their trad- 
ing post to its liking. Just how it was 
done was never learned. It is doubtful 
that the creatures could gnaw away the 
solid stone — more likely the process 
was chemical, but none the less it was 
effective. The foundations crumbled; 
the metal shell subsided, rolled half 
over so that silty water leaked in 
through the straining seams, and 
threatened at any moment to be buf- 
feted and urged away on the surface 
of the flood toward that distant vast sea 
which covers nine-tenths of the area of 
Inn. 



"Time to mush for the mountains," 
Forepaugh decided. 

Gunga grinned. The Mountains of 
Perdition were, to his point of view, 
the only part of Inra even remotely in- 
habitable. They were sometimes fairly 
cool, and though perpetually pelted 
with rain, blazing with lightning and 
reverberating with thunder, they had 
caves that were fairly dry and too cool 
foe the black mold. Sometimes, under 
favorable circumstances on .their rug- 
ged pea ks , on sscould get thV fulk bene- 
fit of the enormous hot sun for whose 
actinic rays the Martian's starved sys- 
tem yearned. 

"Better pack a few cans of the food 
tablets," the white man ordered- "Take 
a "couple of waterproof sleeping bags 
for us, and a few hundred fire pellets. 
You can have the Bash pistol; it may 
have a few more charges in it." 

FOREPA iXCH broke the glass case 
marked "Emergency Only" and 
removed two more flash; pistols. Well 
^tfe knew that he would need them after 
/passing beyond the trading area — per- 
ipaps sooner. His eyes fell on his per- 
sonal chest, and he opened it for a brief 
examination. .None of the contents 
seemed of any value, and he was about 
to pass when he dragged out a long, 
heavy, .45 caliber six-shooter in a hol- 
ster, and a cartridge belt filled with 
shells. The Martian stared. 

"Know what it is?" his master asked, 
handing him the weapon. 

"Gunga not know." He took it and 
examined it curiously. It was a fine 
museum piece in an excellent state of 
preservation, the metal overlaid with 
the patina of age, but free from rust 
and corrosion. 

"It's a weapon of the Ancients," 
Forepaugh explained. "It was a sort of 
family heirloom and is over 300 years 
old. One of my grandfathers used it 
in .the famous Northwest Mounted Po- 
lice. Wonder if it'll still shoot." 

He leveled the weapon at a fat, sight- 
less wriggler that came squirming 
through a seam, squinting unaccus- 



THE PLANET OF DREAD 



tomed eyes along the barrel. There 
was a violent explosion, and the wrig- 
gler disappeared in a am ear of dirty 
green. Cunga nearly fell over back- 
ward in fright, and even Forepaugh 
was shaken. He was surprised that the 
ancient cartridge had exploded at all, 
though he knew powder making had 
reached a high level of perfection be- 
fore explosive chemical weapons had<^ 
yielded to the newer, lighter, and in- 
finitely more powerful ray weapons. 
The gun would impede their progress. 
It would be of very liftle use against 
the giant Carnivora of Inra. Yet some- 
thing — perhaps a sentimental attach- 
ment, perhaps what his ancestors would 
have called a "hunch"— compelled him 
to strap it around his waist. He care- 
fully packed a few essentials in his 
knapsack, together with one chronom- 
eter and a tiny gyroscopic compass. So 
equipped, they could travel with a fair 
degree of precision toward the moun- 
tain^ some hundred miles on the other 
side of a steaming forest, a-crawl with 
feral life, and hot with blood-lust. 

MAN and master descended into 
the warm waters and, without a 
backward glance, left v the trading post 
to its fate. There was not even any 
use in leaving a note. Their, relief 
ship, soon due, would never find the 
station without radio direction. 

The current was strong, but the wa- 
ter gradually became shallower as they 
ascended the sloping rock. After half 
an hour they saw ahead of them the 
loom of the forest, and with some 
trepidation they entered the gloom cast 
by the towering, fernlike trees, whose 
tops disappeared in murky fog. 
Tangled vines impeded their progress. 
Quagmires lay in wait for them, and 
tough weeds tripped them, sometimes 
throwing one or another into the mud 
among squirming small reptiles that 
lashed at them with spiked, poisonous 
feet and then fell to pieces, each piece 
to lie in the .bubbling ooze until it 
grew again into a whole animal. 
Several times they almost walked un- 



der the bodies of great, spheroidal 
creatures with massive short legs, 
whose tremendously long, sinuous 
necks disappeared in the leafy murk 
above, swaying gently like long-stalked 
lilies in a terrestial pond. These were 
Bzornacks, mild-tempered vegetarians 
whose only defense lay in their thick, 
blubbery hides. Filled with parasites, 
stinking and rancid, their decaying 
covering of fat effectively concealed 
the tender flesh underneath, protecting 
them from fangs and rending daws. 

Deeper in the forest of the battering 
of the rain was mitigated. Giant neo- 
palm leaves formed a roof that shut 
out not only most of the weak daylight, 
but also the fury of the downpour. 
The water collected ip cataracts, ran 
down the boles of the trees, and roared 
through the semi-circular canals of the 
snake trees, so named by early ex- 
plorers for their waving, rubbery ten- 
tacles, multiplied a millionfold. that 
performed the duties of leaves. Water 
gurgled and chuckled everywhere, 
spread in vast dim ponds and lakei 
writhing with tormented roots, up- 
heaved by unseen, uncatalogued levia- 
thans, rippledSby translucent discs of 
loathsome, luminescent jelly that quiv- ■ 
ered from place to place in pursuit, of 
microscopic prey. 

Yet the impression was one of calm 
and quiet, and the waifs from other 
worlds felt a surcease of nervous ten- 
sion. Unconsciously they relaxed. 
Taking their bearings, they changed 
their course slightly for the nesting 
place of the nearest tribe of Inranians 
where they hoped to get food and at 
least partial shelter; for their food 
tablets had mysteriously turned to an 
unpleasant viscous liquid, and their 
Bleeping bags were alive with giant 
bacteria easily visible to the eye. 

THEY were doomed to disappoint- 
ment. After nearly twelve hours 
of desperate struggling through the 
morass, through gloomy aisles, an<f 
countless narrow escapes from prowl- 
ing beasts of prey in which only the 



152 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



■peed and tremendous power of their 
flash pistols saved them from instant 
death, they readied a rocky outcrop- < 
ping which led to the comparatively 
dry rise of land on which a tribe of In- 
ranians made its home. Their faces 
were covered with welts made by the 
hanging filaments of bloodsucking 
trees as fine as spider webs, and their 
senses reeled with the oppressive 
stench of the abysmal jungle.'' If the 
pampered ladies of the Inner Planets 
only knew where their thousand-dollar 
orchids sprang from I 

Converging runways .showed the 
opening of one of the underground 
dens, almost hidden from view by a be- 
wildering maze of roots, rendered more 
formidable by long, sharp stakes made 
from the iron-hard thigh-bones of the 
flying kabo. 

Forepaugh cupped his hands over his 
mouth and gave the call. 

"Ouf! Oif! Ouf! Oufl •Oufl" 

He repeated it over and over, the 
Jungle giving back bis voice in a muf- 
fled echo, while Cunga held a spare 
flash pistol and kept a sharp lookout 
for a carnivore intent on getting an un- 
wary Inranian. <? 

There was no answer. These timid 
creatures, who are often rated the most 
intelligent life native to primitive Inra, 
had sensed disaster and had fled. 

Forepaugh and Gunga slept in one 
of the foul, poorly ventilated dens, ate/ 
of the hard, woody tubers that had not 
been worth taking along, and wished 
they had a certain stock clerk at that 
place at that time. They were awak- 
ened out of deep slumber by the thresh- 
ing of an evil looking creature which 
had become entangled among the sharp- 
ened spikes. Its tremendous maw, 
splitting it almost in half, was opened 
in roars of pain that showed great yel- 
low fangs eight incher in length. Its 
heavy flippers battered the stout roots 
and lacerated themselves in the beast's 
insensate rage. It was quickly dis- 
patched with a flash pistol and Gunga 
cooked himself some of the meat, using 
a fire pellet; but despite his hunger 



Forepaugh did not dare eat any of it, 
knowing that this species, strange to 
him, might easily be one of the many 
on Inra that are poisonous to ter- 
restials. 

THEY resumed their march toward 
the distant invisible mountains, 
and were fortunate in finding some- 
what better footing than they had on 
their previous march. They covered 
about 25 miles on that "day," without 
untoward incident. Their ray pistols 
gave them an insuperable advantage 
over the largest and most . ferocious 
beasts they could expect to meet, so 
that they became more and more con- 
fident, despite the knowledge that they 
were rapidly using up the energy 
stored in their weapons. The first one 
had long ago been discarded, and the 
charge indicators of the other two were 
approaching zero at a disquieting rate. 
Forepaugh took them both, and from 
that time on he was careful never to 
waste a discharge except in case of a 
direct and unavoidable attack. This 
often entailed long waits or stealthy 
detours through sucking mud, and 
came near to ending both their lives. 

The Earth man was in the lead when 
it happened. Seeking an uncertain 
footing through a tangle of low-grow- 
ing, thick, ghastly wnite vegetation, he 
placed a foot on what -seemed to be a 
broad, flat rock projecting slightly 
above the ooze. Instantly there waB a 
violent upheaval of mud; the seeming 
rock flew up like a trap'door, disclos- 
ing a cavernous mouth some seven feet 
across, and a thick, triangular tentacle 
flew up from its concealment in the 
mud in a vicious arc. Forepaugh 
leaped back barely in time to escape 
being swept in and engulfed. The end 
of the tentacle struck him a heavy blow 
on - the chest, throwing him back with 
such force as to bowl Gunga over, and 
whirling the pistols out of his hands 
into a slimy, bulbous growth nearby, 
where they stuck in the phosphorescent 
cavities the force of their impact had 
made. 



THE PLANET OF DREAD 



153 



THERE was no time to recover the 
weapons. With, a bellow of rage 
the beast was out of its bed and rush- 
ing at them. Nothing stayed its prog- 
ress. Tough, heavily scaled trees 
thicker than a man's body shuddered 
and fell as its bulk brushed by them. 
But it was momentarily confused, and 
its first rush carried it past its dodging 
quarry. This momentarily respite 
saved their lives. 

Rearing its plumed head to awesome 
heights, its knobby bark running with 
brown rivulets of water, a giant tree, 
even for that world of giants, offered 
refuge. The men scrambled up the 
rough trunk easily, finding plenty of 
hand and footholds. They came to rest 
on one of the shelflike circumvoluting 
rings, some twenty-five feet above the 
ground. Soon the blunt brown ten- 
tacles slithered in search of them, but 
failed to reach their refuge by inches. 

And now began the most terrible 
siege that interlopers in that primitive 
world can endure. From that cavern- 
ous, distended throat came a tremen- 
dous, world-shaking noise. 

"HOOM I HOOM ! HOOM ! HOOM ! 
HOOM! HOQMI" 

Forepaugh put his hand to his head. 
It made him dizzy. He had not be- 
lieved that such noise could be. He 
knew that no creature could long live 
amidst it. He tore strips from his 
shredded clothing and stuffed his ears, 
but felt no relief. 

"HOOM I HOOM ! HOOM I HOOM I 
HOOM!" 
It throbbed in his brain. 
Gunga lay a-sprawl, staring with 
fascinated eye into the pulsating scar- 
let gullet that was blasting the world 
with sound. Slowly, slowly he was 
slipping. His master hauled him back. 
The Martian grinned at him stupidly, 
•lid again to the edge. 

Once more Forepaugh pulled him 
back. The Martian seemed to acqui- 
esce. His single eye closed to a mere 
•lit. He moved to a position between 
^Forepaugh and the tree trunk, braced 
til feet. 



"No you don't I" The Earth man 
laughed uproariously. The din waa 
making him light-headed. It was so 
funny I Just in time he had caught 
that cunning expression and prepared 
for .the outlashing of feet designed to 
plunge~"bi«n iAto the red cavern below 
and to stopNriiat hellish racket. 

"And now-A;* 

He swung hisNist heavily, slamming 
the Martian against the tree. The red 
eye closed i wearily. He was uncon- 
scious, and lucky. 

Hungrily the Earth man stared at 
his . distant flash pistols, plainly vis- 
ible in the luminescence of their 
fungus bedding. He began a slow, cau- 
tious creep along the top of a vine some 
eignt inches thick. If he could reach 
them. . . . 

CRASH I He was almost knocked 
to the ground by the thud of a 
frantic tentacle against the vine, rlis 
movement had been seen. Again the 
tentacle struck with crushing force. 
The great vine swayed. He managed 
to reach the shelf again in the very 
nick of time. 

"HOOM I HOOM I HOOM 1 HOOM I 
HOOM r 

A bolt of lightning struck a giant 
fern some distance away. The crash 
of thunder was hardly noticeable. 
Forepaugh wondered if his tree would 
be struck. Perhaps it might even start 
a fire, giving him a flaming brand with 
which to torment his tormenter. Vain 
hope I The wood was saturated with 
moisture. Even the fire pellets could 
not make it burn. , 

"HOOM I HOOM ! HOOM I HOOMt 
HOOM! HOOM! HOOM!" 

The six-shooter! He had forgotten 
it. He jerked it from its holster and 
pointed it at the red thfcat, emptied all 
the chambers. He .saw the flash of 
yellow flame, felt the recoil, but the 
sound of the discharges was drowned 
in the Brobdignagian tumult. He drew 
back his arm to throw the useless toy 
from him. But again that unexplain- 
able, senseless "hunch" restrained him. 



154 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



He reloaded fke gun and returned it to 
its holster. 

"HOOM 1 HOOM I HOOM I HOOM I 
HOOMI HOOM I" 

A thought Bad been struggling to 
reach his consciousness against the 
pressure of the unbearable noise. Tha. 
fire pellets I Couldn't they be used in 
some way? These small chemical 
spheres, no larger than the end of his 
little finger, had long ago supplanted' 
actual fire along the frontiers, where 
electricity was not available for cook- 
ing. In contact with moisture they 
emitted terrific heat, a radiant heat 
'which penetrated meat, bone, and even 
metal. One such pellet would cook a 
meal in ten minutes, with no sign of 
scorching or burning. And they had 
several hundred in one of the standard 
moisture-proof containers. 

AS fast as his fingers could work 
the trigger of the dispenser Fore- 
paugh dropped the potent little pellets 
down the bellowing throat. lie man- 
aged to release about thirty before the 
bellowing stopped. A veritable tor- 
nado of energy broke loose at the foot 
of the tree. The giant maw was closed, 
and the shocking silence was broken 
only by the thrashing of a giant body 
in its death agonies. The radiant heat, 
penetrating through* and through the 
beast's body, withered nearby vegeta- 
tion and could be easily felt on the 
perch up the tree. 

jGunga was slowly, recovering. H\s 
iron constitution helped him to rally 
from the powerful i blow he had re- 
ceived, and by the time the jungle was 
still he was sitting up mumbling apolo- 
gies. 

"Never mind," said his master.' "Shin 
down there and cut us off a good help- 
ing of roasf tongue, if it has a tongue, 
before something else comes along and 
beats us out of a feast." 

"Him poison, maybe," Gunga de- 
murred. They had killed a specimen 
new to zoologist*. 

"Migftt as well die of poison as star- 
vation," Forcpaugh countered. 



Without more ado the Martian de- 
scended, cut out some large, juicy 
chunks as his fancy dictated, and 
brought his loot .back up the tree. The 
meat was delicious and apparently 
wholesome. They gorged themselves 
and threw away what they could not 
eat, for food spoils very quickly in 
the Inranian jungles and uneaten meat 
would only serve to attract hordes of 
the gauzy-winged, glutinous Inranian 
swamp flies. As they sank into slum- 
ber they could hear the beginning of 
a bedlam of snarling and fighting as the 
lesser Camivora fed on* the body of the 
fallen giant. 

When they awoke the chronometer 
recorded the passing of twelve hours, 
and they had to tear a network of 
strong fibers with which the tree had 
invested them preparatory to absorb- 
ing their bodies as food. For so keen 
is the competition for life on Inra that 
practically all vegetation is capable of 
absorbing animal food directly. Many 
an Inranian explorer can tell tales of 
narrow escapes from some of the more 
specialized flesh-eating plants; but they 
are now so well known that they are 
easily avoided. 

A CLEAN-PICKED framework of 
crushed and broken giant bones 
was all that was left of the late bel- 
lowing monster. Six-legged water 
dogs were polishing them hopefully, or 
delving into them with their long, sinu- 
ous snouts for the marrow. The Earth 
man fired a few shots with his six- 
shooter, and they scattered, dragging 
the bodies of' their fallen companions 
to a safe distance to be eaten. 

Only one of the flash pistols was in 
working order. The other had been 
trampled by heavy hoofB and; was use- 
less. A heavy handicap under which 
to traverse fifty miles of abysmal 
jungle. They started with nothing for 
breakfast except water, of which they 
had plenty. 

Fortunately the outcropping! of 
rocks and gravel washes were becoming 
more and more frequent, and they wen 



THE PLANET OF DREAD 



155 



able to travel at much better speed. As 
they left the low-lying jungle land 
they entered a zone which was faintly 
reminiscent of a terrestial jungle. It 
was still hot, soggy and fetid, but 
gradually the most primitive aspects of 
the scene were modified. The over- 
arching trees were less closely packed, 
ind they came across occasional rock 
clearings which were bare of vegeta- 
tion except for a dense carpet of brown, 
lichenlike vegetation that secreted an 
astonishing amount of juice. They 
slipped and sloshed through this, rous- 
ing swarms of odd, toothed birds, 
which darted angrily around their 
heads and slashed at them with the 
razor-sharp saw edges on the back of 
their legs. Annoying as they were, 
they could be kept away with branches 
torn from trees, and their presence 
connoted an absence of the deadly 
jangle flesh-eaters, permitting a tem- 
porary relaxation of vigilance and sav- 
ing the resources of the last flash gun. 

They camped that "night" on, the 
edge of one of these rock dearines. 
For the first time in weeks it lujd 
■topped raining, although the sun was 
■till obscured. Dimly on the horizon 
could be seen the first of the foothills. 
Here they gathered some of the giant, 
oblong fungus that early explorers had 
taken for blocks of porous stone be- 
cause of their size and weight, and, 
by dint of the plentiful application of 
fire pellets, managed to set it ablaze. 
The heat added nothing to their com- 
fort, but it dried them out and allowed 
them to sleep unmolsted. 

AN unwary winged eel served as 
their breakfast, and soon they 
■ere on their way to those beckoning 
Bill, i It had started to rain again, but 
the worst part of their journey was 
wer. If they could reach the top of 
me of the mountains there was a good 
chance that they would be seen and res- 
cued by their relief ship, provided they 
did not starve first. 1 The flyer would 
nt the mountains as a base from which 
to search for the trading station, and 



it was conceivable that the skipper 
might actually have anticipated their 
desperate adventure and would look 
for them in the Mountains of Perdi- 
tion. 

They had crossed several ranges of 
the foothills and were beginning to 
congratulate themselves when the dif- 
fused light from above was suddenly 
blotted out. It was raining again, and 
above the echo-augmented thunder 
they heard a shrill screeching. 

"A web serpent I" Gunga cried, 
throwing himself flat on the ground. 

Forepaugh eased into a rock cleft at 
his side. Just in time. A great gro- 
tesque head bore down upon him, 
many-fanged as a medieval dragon. 
Between obsidian eyes was a fissure 
whence emanted a wailing and a foul 
odor. Hundreds of short, clawed legs 
slithered on the rocks under a long 
sinuous body. Then it seemed to leap 
into the air again. Webs grew taught 
between the legs, strumming as they 
caught a strong uphill wind. Again 
it turned to the attack, and missed 
them. This time Forepaugh was ready 
for it. He shot at it with his flash 
pistol^ 

NOTHING happened. The fog 
made accurate shooting impos- 
sible, and the gun lacked its former 
power. The web serpent continued to 
course back and forth over their heads. 

"Guess we'd better run for it," Fore- 
paugh murmured. 
"Go 'head!" 

They cautiously left their places of 
concealment. Instantly the serpent 
was down again, persistent if inac- 
curate. It struck the place of their 
first concealment and missed them. 

"Run I" 

They extended their weary muscles 
to the utmost, but it was soon apparent 
that they could not escape long. A 
rock wall in their path saved them. 

"Hole!" the Martian gasped. 

Forepaugh followed him into the 
rocky cleft. There was a strong draft 
of dry.air, and it would have been next 



156 ASTOUND] 
I 

to impossible to hold the Martian back, 
so Forepaugh allowed him to lead on 
toward the source of the draft. As long 
as it led into the mountains he didn't 
care. 

The natural passageway was unten- 
anted. Evidently its coolness and 
dryness made it untenable for most of 
Inra's humidity and heat loving life. 
Yet the floor was so smooth that it mukt 
have been artificially leveled. Fapit 
illumination was .provided by the rocks 
i themselves. They appeared to be cov- 
ered by some microscopic phosphor- 
escent vegetation. 

After hundreds of twists and turns 
and interminable straight galleries the 
cleft turned more sharply .upward, and 
they had a period of stiff climbing. 
They must have gone several miles and 
climbed at least 20,000 feet. The air 
became noticeably thin, which only ex- 
hilarated Gunga, but slowed the Earth 
man down. But at last they came to 
the end of the cleft. They could go 
no further, but above them, at least 500 
feet higher, they saw a round patch of 
sky, miraculously bright blue sky I 

"A pipe I" Forepaugh cried. 

He had often hear of of these mysteri- 
ous, almost fabulous structures some- 
times reported by passing travelers. 
Straight and true, smooth as glass and 
apparently immune to the elements, 
they had been occasionally seen stand- 
ing on the very tops of the highest 
mountains — seen for a few moments 
only before they were hidden again by 
the clouds. Were they observatories 
of some ancient race, placed thus to 
pierce the mysteries of outer space? 
They would find out. 

THE inside of the pipe had zigzag- 
ing rings of metal, conveniently 
spaced for easy climbing. With Gunga 
leading, they soon reached the top. 
But not quite. 
"Eh?" said Forepaugh. 
"Uh?" said Gunga. 
There had not been a sound, but a 
distinct, definite command had regis- 
tered on their minds. 



[G STORIES 
"Stop!" 

They tried to climb higher, but could 
not unclasp their hands. They tried to 
descend, but could not lower their feet 

The light was by t now relatively 
bright, and as-by command their eyes 
sought the opposite wall. What they 
saw gave their jaded nerves an unpleas- 
ant thrill — a mass of doughy matter of 
a blue-green color about three feet in 
diameter, with something that resem- 
bled a cyst filled With transparent 
liquid near its center. 

And this thing began to flow along 
the rods, much as tar flows. From the 
mass extended a pseudopod; touched 
Gunga on the arm. Instantly the arm 
was raw and bleeding. Terrified, im- 
movable, he writhed in angony. The 
pseudopod returned to the main mass, 
disappearing into its interior with the 
strip of bloody skin. 

Its attention was centered so much 
on the luckless Martian that its control 
slipped from Forepaugh. Seizing his 
flash pistol, he set the localized for a 
small area and aimed it at the thing, 
intent on burning it into nothingness. 
But again his hand was stayed. Against 
the utmost of his will-power his fingers 
opened, letting the pistol drop. The 
liquid in the cyst danced and bubbled. 
Was it laughing at him? It had read 
his mind — thwarted his will again. 

Again a pseudopod stretched out and 
a strip of raw, red flesh adhered to it 
and was consumed. Mad rage con- 
vulsed the Earth man. Should he 
throw himself tooth and nail on the 
monster? And be engulfed? 

He thought; of- the Bix-shooter. It 
thrilled him. £ 

But wouldn't it make him drop that 
too? 

A FLASH of atavistic cunning 
came to him. , 
He began to reiterate in his mindla 
certain thought. L 
"This thing is so I can see you better 
— this thing is so I can see you bet- 
ter." 

He said it over and over, with all the 



THE PLANET OF DREAD 



157 



passion and devotion of a celibate's 
prayer over a uranium fountain. 

"This thing is harmless — but it will 
make me see you better I" 

Slowly he drew the six-shooter. In 
some occult way he knew it was watch- 
ing him. 

"Oh, this is harmless I This is an 
instrument to aid my weak eyes! It 
will help me realize your mastery! 
This will enable me to know your true 
greatness. This will enable me to know 
you as a god." 

Was it complacence or suspicion that 
stirred the liquid in the cyst so 
smoothly? Was it susceptible to flat- 
tery? He sighted along the barrel. 

"In another moment your greit in- 
telligence will overwhelm rae,"f pro- 
claimed his surface mind desperately, 
while the subconscious tensed the trig- 
ger. And at that the clear liquidvburst 
into a turmoil of alarm. Too' late. 
Forepaugh went limp, but not before 
he had loosed a steel-jacketed bullet 
that shattered the mind cyst of the pipe 
denizen. A horrible pain coursed 
through his every fibre and nerve. He 
was safe in the arms of Gunga, being 
carried to the top of the pipe to the 
clean dry air, arO the blessed, blister- 
ing sun. C 

The pipe denizen was dying. A 
viscous, inert mass, it dropped lower 
and lower, lost contact at last, shat- 
tered into slime at the bottom. 

MIRACULOUS sun! ' For a lux- 
urious fifteen minutes they 
roasted there on the top of the pipe, 



the only solid thing in a sea of clouds 
as far as the eye could reach. But 
"no I That was a circular spot against 
the brilliant white of the clouds, and it 
was rapidly coming closer. In a few 
minutes it resolved itself into the 
Comet, fast relief ship of the Terres- 
tial, Inranian, Genidian, and Zydian 
Lines, Inc. With a low buzz of her 
repulsion motors she drew alongside. 
Hooks were attached and ports opened. 
A petty officer and a crew of rousta- 
bouts made her fast. 

V.'What the hell's going on here?" 
asked the cocky little terrestial who 
was skipper, stepping out and survey- 
ing the cast^w,ays. "We've been look- 
ing for you ever since your directional 
wave failed. But come on in — come 
on in I" 

He led the way to his staterooms, 
while the ship's surgeon took Gunga in 
charge. Closing the door carefully, he 
delved into the bottom of his locker 
and brought out a flask. 

"Can't be too careful," be remarked, 
filling a small tumbler for himself and 
another for his guest. "Always apt to 
be some snooper to report me. But say 
— you're wanted in the radio room." 

"Radio room nothing! When do we 
eat?" ; 

"Right away, but you'd better see 
him. Fellow from the Interplanetary 
News Agency wants you to broadcast a 
copyrighted story. Good for about 
three years' salary, old boy." 

"All right. I'll see him" — with a 
happy sigh — "just as soon as I put 
through a personal message." 



Everyone Is Invited 
To "Come Over in 

THE READERS' CORNER'!" 

2 



<>»•> 




The Lord of Space 

By Victor Routseau 



o 



1 N the day of the next full 
moon every living thing on 
earth will be wiped out of 
existence — unless you suc- 
ceed in your mission, Lee." 

Nathaniel Lee looked into the face 
of Silas Stark, 
President of the 
United States of 
the World, and 
nodded grimly. 
"I'll do my best, Sir, 



A Black Cuiu bad 
all Earth trembled al 



he answered. 
"You have the facts. We know who 
this self-styled Black Caesar is, who 
has declared war upon humanity. He 
is a Dane named Axelson, whose father, 
condemned to life imprisonment for re- 

158 



sisting thf new world-order, succeeded 
in obtaining possession of an inter- 
planetary liner. 

"He filled it with the gang of des- 
perate men who had been associated 
with him in his successful escape from 
the penitentiary. 
Together they 
sailed into Space. 
They disappeared. 
It was supposed 



tfiua on Eroa— end 
bU distant menace. 



that they had somehow met their death 
in the ether, beyond the range of hu- 
man ken. 

"Thirty years passed, and then this 
son of Axelson, born, according to his 
own story, of a woman whom the 




father had persuaded to accompany 
him into Space, began to radio us. We 
thought at first it was some practical 
joker who was cutting in. 

"When our electricians demonstrated 
beyond doubt that the voice came from 
outer space, it was supposed that some 
one in our Moon Colony had acquired 
a transmitting machine. Then the 
ships we sent to the Moon Colony for 
gold failed to return. As you know, 
for seven weeks there has been no com- 
munication with the Moon. And at the 
last full moon the — blow — fell. 

"The world depends upon you, Lee. 
The invisible rays that destroyed every 
living thing from China to Australia — 
one-fifth of the human race — will fall 
upon the eastern seaboard of America 
when the moon is full again. Thr.i has 
been the gist of Axelson's repeated 
communications*! 



"We shall look to you to return, 
either with the arch-enemy of the hu- 
man race as your prisoner, or with the 
good news that mankind has been set 
free from the menace that overhangs it. 

"God bless you, my boy I" The 
president of the United States of the 
World gripped Nat's hand and stepped 
down the ladder that led from the 
landing-stage of the great interplane- 
tary space-ship. 

THE immense lancfing-field re- 
served for the ships of the Inter- 
planetary Line was situated a thousand 
feet above the heart of New York City, 
in Westchester County. It was a Bat 
space set on the top of five great tow- 
ers, strewn with electrified sand, whose 
glow had the property of dispersing 
the sea fogs. There, at rest upon what 
resembled nothing so much as iron 



160 



A6TOUNDING STORIES 



claws, the long gray shape of the vac- 
uum flyer bulked. 

Nat sneezed as he watched the opera- 
tions of his men, for the common cold, 
or coryza, seemed likely to be the last 
of the germ diseases that would yield 
to medical science, and he had caught 
a bad one in the Capitol, while listen- 
ing to the debate in the Senate upon 
the threat to humanity. And it was 
cold on the landing-stage, in contrast 
to the perpetual summer of the glass- 
roofed city below. 

But Nat forgot the cold as he 
watched the preparations for the ship's 
departure. Neon and nitrogen gas were 
being pumped under pressure into the 
outer shell, where a minute, charge of 
leucon, the newly discovered element 
that helped to counteract gravitation, 
combined with them to provide the 
power that would lift the vessel above 
the regions of the stratosphere. 

In the low roof-buildings that sur- 
rounded the stage was a scene of tre- 
mendous activity. The selenium discs 
were flashing signals, and the radio re- 
ceivers were shouting the late news; 
on the great power boards dials and 
light signals stood out in the glow of 
the amylite tubes. Ok a rotary stage 
a thousand feet above the ship a giant 
searchlight, visible for a thousand 
miles, moved its shaft of dazzling 
luminosity across the (heavens. 

Now the spar-alumihite outer skin of 
the ship grew bright with the red neon . 
glare. Another ship, from China, 
dropped slowly to its stage near hf, 
and* the unloaders swarmed about the 
pneumatic tubes to receive the mail. 
The teleradio was shouting news of a 
failure of the Manchiirian wheat crop. 
Nat's chief officer, a short cockney 
named Brent, came up to him. 

"Ready to start. Sir," he said. 

NAT turned to him. "Your orders 
are .clear?" 
"Yes, Sir"." 
"Send Benson here." 
"I'm here. Sir." Benson, the ray- 
gunner in charge of the battery that 7 



comprised the vessel's armament, a lean 
Yankee from Connecticut, stepped for- 
ward. 

"You know your orders, Benson? 
Axelson has seized the Moon and the 
gold-mines there. He's planning to ob- 
literate the Earth. We've got to go in 
like mad dogs and shoot to kill. No 
matter if we kill every living thing 
there, even our own people who are in- 
mates of the Moon's penal settlement, 
we've got to account for Axelson." 

"Yes, Sir." 

"We can't guess how he got those 
gold-ships that returned with neon and 
argon for the Moon colonists. But he 
mustn't get us. Let the men under- 
stand that. That's all." 

"Very good, Sir." 

The teleradio suddenly began to 
splutter: A-A-A, it called. And in- 
stantly every sound ceased about the 
landing-stage. For that was the call 
of Axelson, somewhere upon the Moon 

"Axelson speaking. At the next full 
moon all the American Province of the 
World Federation will be annihilated, 
as the Chinese Province was at the 
last. There's no hope for you, good 
people. Send out your vacuum liners. 
I can use a few more of them. Within 
six months your world will be depop- 
ulated, unless you flash me the signal 
of surrender." 

Would the proud old Earth have to 
come to that? Daily those ominous 
threats had been repeated, until popu- 
lar fears had become frenzy. And Nat 
was being sent out as a last hope. If 
he failed, there would be nothing but 
surrender to this man, armed with a 
super-force that enabled him to lay 
waste the Earth from the Moon. 

Within one hour, those invisible, 
death-dealing rays had destroyed 
everything that inhaled oxygen and ex- 
haled carbon. The ray with which the 
liner v.-as equipped was a mere toy in 
comparison. It would kill at no more 
than 500 miles, and its action was quite 
different. 

As a prelude to Earth's surrender, 
Axelson demanded that World Presi- 



THE LORD OF SPACE 



161 



dent Stark and a score of other digni- 
taries should depart for the Moon as 
hostages.' Every ray fortress in the 
world was to be dismantled, every 
treasury was to send its gold to be 
piled up in a great pyramid on the New. 
York landing-stage. The Earth was to 
acknowledge Axelson as its supreme 
master. 

THE iron claws were turning with 
a screwlike motion, extending 
themselves, and slowly raising the in- 
terplanetary vessel until she looked 
like a great metal fish with metal legs 
ending with suckerlike disks. But al- 
ready she was floating free as the softly 
purring engines held her in equipoise. 
Nat climbed the short ladder that led 
to her deck. Brent came up to him 
again. 

"That teleradio message' from Axel- 
ion—" he began. 

"Yes?" Nat snapped out. 

"I don't believe it came from the 
Moon at all." 

"You don't? You think it's somebody 
playing a hoax on Earth? You think 
that wiping out. of China was just an 
Earth-joke?" 

"No, Sir." Brent stood steady under 
his superior's sarcasm. "But I was 
chief teleradio operator at Greenwich 
before being promoted to the Province, 
of America. And what they don't 
know at Greenwich they don't know 
anywhere." 

Brent spoke with that self-assurance 
of the born cockney that even the cen- 
turies had failed to remove, though 
they had removed the cockney accent. 

"Well, Brent?" 

"I was with the chief electrician in 
the receiving station when Axelson 
was radioing last week. And I noticed 
that the waves of sound were under a 
slight Doppler effect. With the im- 
mense magnification necessary /or 
transmitting from the Moon, such de- 
flection might be construed as a mere 
fan-like extension. But there was ten 
times the magnification one would. ex- 
pect from the Moon; and I calculated 



that those sound-waves were shifted 
somewhere." > 

"Then what's your theory, Brent?" 

"Those sounds come from another 
planet. Somewhere on the Moon there's 
an intercepting and re-transmitting 
plant. Axelson is deflecting his rays to 
give the impression that he's on the 
Moon, and to lure our ships there." 

"What do you advise?" asked Nat. 

"I don't know. Sir." 

"Neither do I. Set your course 
Moonward, and tell Mr. Benson to keep 
his eyes peeled." 

THE Moon Colony, discovered in 
1976, when Kramer, of Baltimore, 
first proved the practicability of mix- 
ing neon with the inert new gas, leu- 
con, and so conquering gravitation, had 
proved to be just what it had been sus- 
pected of being — a desiccated, airless 
desolation. Nevertheless, within the 
depths of the craters a certain amount 
of the Moon's ancient atmosphere s* ill 
lingered, sufficient to sustain life fdr 
the queer troglodytes, with enormous 
lung-boxes, who survived there, brows- 
ing like beasts upon the stunted, aloe- 
like vegetation. 

Half man, half ape, and very much 
unlike either, these vestiges of a spe- 
cies on a ruined globe had proved tract- 
able and amenable to discipline. They 
had become the laborers of the convict 
settlement that had sprung up on the 
Moon. 

Thither all those who had opposed 
the establishment of the World Fed- 
eration, together with all persons con- 
victed for the fourth time of a felony, 
had been transported, to superintend 
the efforts of these dumb, unhuman 
Moon dwellers. For it had been dis- 
covered that the Moon craters were ex- 
traordinarily rich in gold, and gold 
was still the medium of exchange on 
Earth. • 

To supplement the vestigial atmos- 
phere, huge stations had been set up, 
which extracted the oxygen from the 
subterranean waters five miles below 
the Moon's crust, and recombined it 



162 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



with the nitrogen* with which the sur- 
face layer was impregnated, thus creat- 
ing an atmosphere which was pumped 
to the workers. 

Then a curious discovery had been' 
made. It was impossible for human 
beings to exist without the addition of 
those elements existing in the air in 
minute quantities — neon, krypton, and 
argon. And the ships that brought the 
gold bars back from the Moon had con- 
veyed these gaseous elements there. 

THE droning gf the sixteen atomic 
motors grew louder, and mingled 
-with the hum of gyroscopes. The lad- 
der was drawn up and the port hole 
sealed. On the enclosed bridge Nat 
threw the switch of durobronze that re- 
leased the non-conducting shutter 
which gave play to the sixteen great 
magnets. Swiftly the great ship shot 
forward into the air. The droning of 
the motors became a shrill whine, and 
then, growing too shrill for human ears 
to follow it, gave place to silence. 

Nat set the speed lever to five hun- 
dred miles an hour, the utmost^that 
had been found possible in passing 
through the earth's atfaosphere, owing 
to the resistance, whicH tended to heat 
the vessel and damage the delicate 
atomic engines. As soon as the ether 
was reached, the speed would be"in-r 
creased to ten or twelve thousand. 
That meant a twenty-two hour run to 
the Moon Colony — about the time usu- 
ally taken. 

He pressed a lever, which set bells 
ringing in all parts of the ship. By 
means of a complicated mechanism, the 
air was exhausted from each compart- 
ment ,in turn, and then replaced, and 
as the bells rang, the men at work 
trooped out of these compartments 
consecutively. This had been origi- 
nated for the purpose of destroying 
any life dangerous to matt that might 
unwittingly have been imported from 
the Moon, but on one occasion it had 
resulted in the discovery of a stowa- 
way. 

Then Nat descended the bridge to 



the upper deck. Here, on a platform, 
were the two batteries of three ray- 
guns apiece, mounted on swivels, and 
firing in any direction on the port and 
starboard sides respectively. The guns 
were enclosed in a thin sheath of 
osmium, through which the lethal rays 
penetrated unchanged; about them, 
thick shields of lead: protected the gun- 
ners. 

He talked with Benson for a while. 
"Don't let Axelsori get the jump on 
you," he said. "Bej on the alert every 
moment." The gunners, keen-looking 
men, graduates frbm the Annapolis 
gunnery school, grinned and nodded. 
They were proud of; their trade and its 
traditions; Nat felt that the vessel was 
safe in their hands. ! 

The chie,f mate appeared at the head 
of the companion, accompanied by a 
girl. "Stowaway, Sir," he reported 
laconically. "She tumbled out of the 
repair shop annex when we let out the 
air I" j 

NAT stared at heir in consternation, 
and the girl stared back at him. 
She was a very pretty girl, hardly more 
than twenty-two or 'three, attired in a 
businesslike costume' consisting of a 
leather jacket, knickers, and the black 
spiral puttees that had come into style 
in the past decade. She came forward 
unabashed. 
"Well, who are you?" snapped Nat. 
"Madge Dawes, of the Universal 
News Syndicate," she answered, laugh- 
ing. 

"The devil I" muttered Nat. "You 
people think you run the World Fed- 
eration since you gc<t President Stark 
elected." j ' 

"We certainly do" replied the girl, 
st Ml laughing. i 

"Well, you don't run this ship," said 
Nat. "How would ypu like a long par- 
achute drop back to Earth?" f 

"Don't be foolish, my dear man," skid. 
Madge. "Don't yoii know you'll get 
wrinkles if you scowl like that? Smile I 
Ah, that's better. Now, honestly, Cap 
we just had to get the jump on every- 



THE LORD OF SPACE 



163 



body else in interviewing Axelson. It 
means such a lot' to me." 

.Pouts succeeded smiles. "You're not 
going to be cross about it, are you?" 
ehe pleaded. 

"Do you realize the risk you're run- 
ning, young woman?" Nat demanded. 
"Are you aware that our chances of 
ever getting back to Earth are smaller 
than you ought to have dreamed of tak- 
ing?" 

"Oh, that's all right," the girl re- 
sponded. "And now that we're friends 
again, would you mind asking the 
steward to get me something to eat? 
I've been cooped up in that room ^own- 
stairs for fifteen hours, and I'm simply 
starving." 

Nat shrugged his shoulders hope- 
lessly. He turned to the chief mate. 
"Take Miss Dawes down to- the saloon 
and see that Wang Ling supplies her 
with a good meal," he ordered. "And 
put her in the Admiral's cabin. That 
good enough for you?" he asked sa- 
tirically. 

"Oh that'll be fine," answered the 
girl enthusiastically. "And I shall rely 
on you to keep me posted about every- 
thing that's going on. And a little 
later I'm going to take X-ray photo- 
graphs of you and all these men." 
She smiled at the grinning gunners. 
"That's the new fad, you know, and 
^e're going to offer prizes for the best 
developed skeletons in the ' American 
Province, and pick a King and Queen 
of Beauty I" 

"A RADIO, Sir!" 

XjL Nat, who had snatched a brief 
interval of sleep, started up as the man 
on duty handed him the message. The 
vessel had been constantly in commu- 
nication with Earth during her voy- 
age, now nearing completion, but the 
dreaded A-A-A that prefaced this mes- 
sage told Nat that it came from Axel- 
son. 

"Congratulations on your attempt," 
the message ran, "I have watched your 
career with the greatest interest, Lee, 
through the mejdium of such scrapa of 



information as I have been able to pick 
up on the Moon. When you are my 
guest to-morrow I shall hope to be able 
to offer you a high post in the new 
World Government that I am planning 
to establish. I need good men. Fra- 
ternally, the Black Caesar." 

Nat whirled about. Madge Dawes 
was standing behind him, trying to 
read the message over his shoulder. 

"Spying, eh?" said Nat bitterly. 

"My dear man, isn't that my busi- 
ness?" 

"Well, read this, then," said Nat, 
handing her the message. "You're 
likely to repent this crazy trick of 
yours before we get much farther." 

And he pointed to the cosmic-ray 
skiagraph of the Moon on the curved 
glass dome overhead. They were ap- 
proaching the satellite rapidly. It 
filled the whole dome, the craters great 
black hollows, the mountains standing 
out clearly. Beneath the dome were 
the radium apparatus that emitted the 
rays by which the satellite was photo- 
graphed cinematographically, and the 
gyroscope steering apparatus by which 
the ship's course was directed. 

Suddenly a buzzer sounded a warn- 
ing. Nat sprang to the tube. 

"Gravitational interference X40, gy- 
roscopic aberrancy one minute 29," he 
called. "Discharge static electricity 
from hull. Mr. Benson, stand by." 

"What does that mean?" asked 
Madge. 

"It means I shall be obliged if you'll 
abstain from speaking to the man at 
the controls," snapped Nat. 

"And what's that?" cried Madge in a 
shriller voice, pointing upward. 

ACROSS the patterned surface of 
the Moon, shown on the skia- 
graph, a black, cigar-shaped form was 
passing. It looked like one of the old- 
fashioned dirigibles, and the speed 
with which it moved was evident from 
the fact that it was perceptibly travers- 
ing the Moon's surface. Perhaps it was 
travelling at the rate of fifty thousand 
miles an hour. 



164 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



Brent, the chief officer, burst up the 
companion. His face was liyid. 

"Black ship approaching us from the 
Moon, Sir," he stammered. "Benson's 
training his guns, but it must be twenty 
thousands milea away." 

"Yes, even our ray-guns won't shoot 
that distance,"- answered Nat. "Tell 
Benson to keep his guns trained as 
well as he can. and open fire at five 
hundred." s- 

Brent disappeared. Madge and Nat 
were alone on the bridge. Nat 
was shouting incomprehensible orders 
down the tube. He stopped and looked 
up. The shadow of the approaching 
ship had crossed the Moon's disk and 
disappeared. 

"Well, young lady, I think your 
goose is cooked?' said Nat. "If I'm not 
mistaken, that ship is Axelson's, and 
he's on his way to knock us galley- 
west. And now oblige me by leaving 
the bridge." 

"I think he's a perfectly delightful 
character, to judge from that message 
he sent you," answered Madge, "and — " 

Brent appeared again. "Triangula- 
tion shows ten thousand miles, Sir," he 
informed Nat. 

"Take control," said Nat. "Keep on 
t'ie gyroscopic course, allowing for 
aberrancy, and make for the Crater of 
Pytho. I'll take command of the guns." 
7Te hurried down the companion, with 
TTadge at his heels. > 

THE gunners stood by the ray- 
guns, three at each, Benson 
perched on a revolving stool ahove the 
batteries. He was watching a, peris- 
copic instrument that connectea with 
the bridge dome by means of a tube, a 
flat mirror in front of him showing all 
points of the compass. At one edge 
the shadow o'f>, the black ship was 
creeping slowly forward. 

"Eight thousand miles, Sir," he told 
Nat. "One thousand is our extreme 
range. And it looks as if she's making 
for our blind spot overhead." 

Nat stepped to the speaking-tube. 
"Try to ram her," he called up to 



Brent. "We'll open with all guns, 
pointing forward." 

"Very good, Sir," the Cockney called 
back. 

The black shadow! was now nearly in 
the centre of the mirror. It moved up- 
ward, vanished. Suddenly the atomic 
motors began wheezing again. The 
wheeze became a whine, a drone. 

"We've dropped! to two thousand 
miles an hour, Sir," called Brent. 

Nat leaped for tjbe companion. As 
he reached the top he could hear the 
teleradio apparatup in the wireless 
room overhead begin to chatter : 

"A-A-A. Don't tty to interfere. Am 
taking you to the Crater of Pytho. 
Shall renew my offer there. Any re- 
sistance will be fatal. Axelson." 

And suddenly the droning of the 
motors became a whine again, then si- 
lence. Nat stared kt the instrument- 
board and uttered ajcry. 

"What's the matter?" demanded 
Madge. 

Nat swung upon Her. "The matter?" 
he bawled. "He's neutralized our en- 
gines, by some infernal means of his 
own, and he's towing us to the Moon!" 

THE huge sphere of the Moon had 
long since covered the entire 
dome. The huge Cirater of Pytho now 
filled it, a black hollow fifty miles 
across, into which they were gradually 
settling. And, as they settled, the pale 
Earth light, white as that of the Moon 
on Earth, showed the gaunt masses of 
bare rock, on whicty nothing grew, and 
the long stalactites: of glassy lava that 
hung from them. ; 

Then out of the depths beneath 
emerged the shadowy shape of the 
landing-stage. 

"You are about \o land," chattered 
the radio. "Don't tjry any tricks; they 
will be useless. Above all, don't try to 
use your puny ray.j You are helpless." 

The ship was almost stationary. Lit- 
tle figures could he seen swarming 
upon the landing-stage, ready to ad- 
just the iron claw* to clamp the hull. 
With a gesture of helplessness, Nat 



THE LORD OF SPACE 



165 



left the bridge and went down to the 
main deck where, in obedience to his 
orders, the crew had all assembled. 

"Men, I'm putting it up to you," he 
taid. "Axelson, the Black Caesar, ad- 
vises us not to attempt to use the Ray- 
guns. I won't order you to. Til leave 
the decision with you." 1 

"We tried it fifteen minutes ago, 
Sir," answered Benson. "I told Larri- 
gan to fire off the stem starboard gun 
to see if it was in working order, and 
it wasn't I" 

At that moment the vessel settled 
with a slight jar into the clamps. Once 
more the teleradio began to scream: 

"Open the por{ hold and file out 
•lowly. Resistance is useless. I should 
turn my ray upon you and obliterate 
you immediately. Assemble on the 
landing-stage and wait for me I" 

"You'd best obey," Nat told his men. 
"We've got a passenger to consider." 
He glared at Madge as he spoke, and 
Madge's smile was a little more tremu- 
lous than it had been before. 

"This is the most thrilling experi- 
ence of my life, Captain Lee," she 
•aid. "And I'll never rest until I've 
got an X-Ray photograph of Mr. Axel- 
son's skeleton for the Universal News 
Syndicate." 

ONE by one, Nat last, the crew filed 
down the ladder onto the landing- 
stage, gasping and choking in the rare- 
fied, air that lay like a blanket at the 
bottom of the crater. And the reason 
for this was only too apparent to Nat 
is soon as he was on the level stage. 

Overhead, at an altitude of about a 
mile, the black ship hung, and from its 
bow a stupendous searchlight played 
to and fro over the bottom of the cra- 
ter, making it as light as day. And 
where had been the mining machinery, 
the great buildings that had housed 
convicts and Moon people, and the 
huge edifice that contained the pump- 
ing station, there was — nothing. 

The devilish ray of Axelson had not 
merely destroyed them, it had oblite- 
rated all traces of them, and the crew 



of the liner were breathing the rem- 
nants of the atmosphere that still lay 
at the bottom of the Crater of Pytho. 

But beside >the twin landing-stages, 
constructed by the World Federation, 
another building arose, with an open 
front. And that front was a huge mir- 
ror, now scintillating under the search- 
light from the black ship. 

"That's it. Sir!" shouted Brent. 

"That's what?" snapped Nat. 

"The deflecting mirror I was speak- 
ing of. That's what deflected the ray 
that wipaQ out China. The ray didn't 
come frenn the Moon. And that's the 
mirror that deflects the teleradio 
waves, the super-Hertzian rays that 
carry the sound." 

Nat did not answer. Sick at heart 
at the failure of his mission, he was 
watching the swarm of Moon men who 
were at work upon the 'landing-stage, 
turning the steel clamps and regulat- 
ing the mechanism that controlled the 
apparatus. Dwarfed, apish creatures, 
with tiny limbs, and chests that stood 
out like barrels, they bustled about, 
chattering in shrill voices that seemed 
like the piping of birds. 

It was evident that Axelson, though 
he had wiped out the Moon convicts 
and the Moon people in the crater, had 
reserved a number of the latter for per- 
sonal use. 

THE black ship was dropping into 
its position at the second landing- 
stage, connected with the first by a 
short bridge. The starboard hold 
swung open, and a file of shrouded and 
hooded forms appeared, masked men, 
breathing in condensed air from recep- 
tacles upon their chests, and staring 
with goggle eyes at their captives. 
Each one held in his hand a lethal tube 
containing the ray, and, as if by com- 
mand, they took up their stations about 
their prisoners. 

Then, at a signal from their leader, 
they suddenly doffed their masks. 

Nat looked at them in astonishment. 
He had not known whether these 
would be Earth denizens or inhabitants 



166 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



of some other planet. But they were 
Earth men. And they were old. 

Men of sixty or seventy years, with 
long, gray beards and wrinkled faces, 
and eyes that stared out from beneath 
penthouses of shaggy eyebrows. Faces 
on which were imprinted despair and 
hopelessness. 

Then the first man took oS his mask, 
and Nat saw a man of- different char- 
acter. 

A man in the prime of life, with a 
mass of jet black hair and a black beard 
that swept to his waist, a nose like a 
hawk's, and a pair of dark blue eyes 
that fixed themselves on Nat's with a 
look of Luciferian pride. 

"Welcome, Nathaniel Lee," said the 
man, in deep tones that had a curious 
accent which Nat could not place. "I 
ought to know your name, since your 
teSeradios on Earth have been shouting 
it for three days past as that of the 
man who is to save Earth from the 
threat of destruction. And you know 
me I" ; i 

"Axelson — the Black Caesar," Nat 
muttered. For the moment he was 
taken aback. He had anticipated any 
sort of person except this man, who 
stood, looked, and spoke like a Viking, 
this incarnation of pride and strength. 

Axelson smiled — and then tfis eyes 
lit tfpon Madge. Dawes. And for a mo- 
ment he stood as ft petrified into a 
block of massive granite. 

"What — who is this?" he growled. 

"Why, I'm Madge Dawes, of the 
Universal News Syndicate," answered 
the girl, smiling at Axelson in her ir- 
repressible manner. "And I'm sure 
you're not nearly such a bold, bad pi- 
rate as people think, and you're- going 
to let us all go free." 

INSTANTLY Axelson seemed to be- 
come transformed into a maniac. 
He' turned to the old men and shouted 
in some incomprehensible language. 
Nat and Madge, Brent and Benson/and 
two others who wore the uniforms of 
officers were seized and dragged across 
the bridge to the landing-stage where 



the black ship was moored. The rest of 
the ctew were ordered into a double 
line. 

And then the slaughter began. 

Before Nat could even struggle to 
break a\vay from %he gibbering Moon 
men to whom he afcd the other prison- 
ers had been consigned, the aged crew 
of the' Black Caesar had begun their 
work of almost instantaneous destruc- 
tion. 

Streams of red and purple light shot 
from the ray-pistols that they carried, 
and before them the crew of the ether- 
lineri simply withered up and vanished. 
They became mere masses of human 
debris piled bn the landing-stage, and 
upon these masses, too, the old men 
turned their implements, until only a 
few heaps of charred carbon remained 
on the landing-stage, impalpable as 
burned paper, arid slowly rising in the 
low atmospheric' pressure- until they 
drifted over the cfater. 

Nat bad cried out in horror at the 
sight, and tried to tear himself free 
from the grasp of the Moon dwarfs 
who held Kim. So had the rest. Never 
was struggle so futile. Despite their 
short arms and legs, the Moon dwarfs 
held them in an unshakable grip, chat- 
tering- and squeaiing as they com- 
pressed them agaihst their barrel-like 
•nests until the breath was all but 
crushed out of ttieir bodies. 

"Devil!" cried 'Nat furiously, as 
Axelson came up to him. "Why don't 
you kill us, too?" And he hurled furi- 
ous taunts and • abuse at him, in the 
hope of goading him into making thfc 
same comparatively merciless vend of 
his prisoners. 

Axelson looked at him calmly, but 
made no reply. He looked at Madge 
again, and his features were convulsed 
with some emotion that gave him the 
aspect of a fiend.,. And then only did 
Nat realize that it toaa Madge who was 
responsible for the Black Caesar's mad- 
ness. 

Axelson spoke again, and the prison- 
ers were hustled up the ladder and on 
board the black vessel. 



THE LORD OF SPACE 



167 



tf'rrMIE Kommandant-Kommissar 
X will see you I" The door of their 
prison had opened, letting in a shaft of 
light, and disclosing one of the gray- 
beards, who stood there, pointing at 
Nat. 

"The — who?" Nat demanded. 

"The Kommandant-Kommissar, Com- 
rade Axelson," snarled the graybeard. 

Nat knew what that strange jargon 
meant. He had read books about the 
political sect known as Socialists who 
flourished in the Nineteenth and Twen- 
tieth Centuries, and. Indeed, were even 
yet not everywhere extinct, And with 
that a flash of intuition explained the 
presence of these old men on board. 

IJhesc were the men who had been 
imprisoned in their youth, with Axel- 
son's father, and had escaped and made 
their way into space, and had been sup- 
posed dead long since. . Somewhere 
they must have survived. 

And here they were, speaking a jar- 
gon of past generations, and ignorant 
that the .world had changed, relics of 
the past, dead as the dead Moon from 
which the black ship was winging away 
through the ether. 

"Don't go, Captain," pleaded Madge. 
'Tell him we'U all go together." 

Nat shook his head. "Maybe I'll be 
able to make terms with him," he an- •» 
swered, and stepped out upon the ves- 
sel's deck. 

The graybeard slammed the door 
and laughed savagely. "You'll make/ 
no terms with the Black Caesar," he 
said. "This is the reign of the prole- 
tariat. The bourgeois must die! So 
Lenin decreed I" 

But he stopped suddenly and passed 
his hand over his forehead like a man 
awakening from a dream. 

"Surely the proletariat has already 
triumphed on earthjf he asked. "A 
long time has passed, and daily we ex- 
pect the summons to return and estab- 
lish the new world-order. What year 
is this? Is it not 2017? It is so hard 
to reckon on Eros." 

"On Eros?" thought Nat. "This is 
the year 2044," he answered. "You've, • 



been dreaming, my friend. We've had 
our new world-order, and it's not in the 
least like the one you and your friends 
anticipated." 

"Gottl" screamed the old man. 
"Cott, you're lying to me, bourgeois I 
You're lying, I tell youl" 

SO Eros was their destination I Eros, 
one of the asteroids, those tiny 
fragments of a broken planet, lying 
outside the orbit of Mars. Some of 
these little worlds, of which more than 
a thousand are known to exist, are no 
larger than a gentleman's country es- 
tate; some are mere rocks in space. 
Eros, Nat knew, was distinguished 
among them from the fact that it had 
ah eccentric orbit, which brought it at 
times nearer Earth than any other 
heavenly body except the Moon. 7 

Also that it had only been known for 
thirty years, and that it was supposed 
to be a double planet, having a dark 
companion. 

That was in Nat's mind as he as- 
cended the bridge to where Axelson 
was standing at the controls, with one. 
of the graybeards beside him. The 
door of his stateroom was open, and 
suddenly there scuttled out of it one 
of the most bestial objects Nat had 
ever seen. 

It was a Moon woman, a dwarfish 
figure, clothed in a shapeless garment 
of spun cellulose, and in her arms she 
held a heavy-headed Moon baby, whose 
huge chest stood up like a pyramid, 
while the tiny arms and legs hung dan- 
gling down. 

"Here is the bourgeois, Kommand- 
ant," said Nat'.s captor. 

Axelson looked at Nat, eye meeting 
eye in a slow stare. Then he relin- 
quished the controls\o the graybeard 
beside him, and motioned Nat to pre- 
cede him into the stateroom. 

Nat enteredT It/vtfcs an ordinary 
room, much like thn of the captain of 
the ether-liner now stranded on the 
Moon. There were a bunk, chairs, a 
desk and a radio receiver. 
Axelson shut the door. He tried to> 



168 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



speak and failed to master his emotion. 
At last he said: 

"I am prepared to offer you terms, 
Nathaniel Lee,' in accordance with my 
promise." 

"I'll make no terms with murderers," 
replied Nat bitterly. 

AXELSON Btood looking at him. 
His great chest rose and fell. 
Suddenly he put out one great hand 
and clapped Nat on the shoulder. 

"Wise men," he said, "recognize 
factsV Within three weeks I shall be 
the undisputed ruler of Earth. 
Whether of a desert or of a cowed and 
submissive subject-population, rests 
with the Earth'men. I have never been 
on Earth, for I was bom on Eros. My 
mother died at my birth. I have never 
seen another human woman until to- 
day." 

Nat looked at him, trying to follow 
what was in Axelson's mind. 

"My father fled to Eros, a little 
planet seventeen miles in diameter, as 
we have found. He called it a heav- 
enly paradise. It was his intention to 
found there a colony of those who were 
in rebellion against the tyrants of 
Earth. # 

"His followers journeyed to the 
Moon and brought back Moon women 
for wives. But there were no children 
of these unions. Later there were dis- 
tensions and civil war. Three-fourths 
of the colony died in battle with one 
another. 

"I was a young man. I seized the'" 
reins of power. The survivors — these 
old men — were disillusioned and do- 
cile. I made myself absolute. I 
brought Moon men and women to Eros 
to serve us as slaves. But in a few 
years the last of 'my father's old com- 
patriots will have died, and thus it was 
I conceived of conquering Earth and 
having men to obey me. For fifteen 
years I have been experimenting and 
constructing apparatus, with which I 
now have Earth at my mercy. 

"But I shall need assistance, intelli- 
gent men who will obey me and aid me 



in my plans. That is why I saved you 
and the other officers of your ether- 
lines. If you will Join me, you shall 
have the highest post on Earth under 
me, Nathaniel Lee, and those others 
shall be under you. I 

AXELSON paufeed, and, loathing 
the man though he did, Nat was 
conscious of a feeling of pity for him 
that he could not control. He saw bis 
lonely life on Erds, surrounded by 
those phantom humans of the past, and 
he understood his longing for Earth 
rule — he the planetary exile, the sole 
human being of all the planetary sys- 
tem outside Earth, perhaps, except for 
his dwindling company of aged men. 

"To-day, Nathanie} Lee," Axelson 
went on, "my life was recast in a new 
mould when I saw thje woman you have 
brought with you. I did not know be- 
fore that women were beautiful to look 
on. I did not dream that creatures 
such as she existed, j She must be mine, 
Nathaniel Lee. 

"But that is immaterial. What is 
your answer to my offer?" 

Nat was trying to think, though pas- 
sion distorted the Rental images as 
they arose in his brain. To Axelson it 
was evidently incomprehensible that 
there would be anyj objection to his 
taking Madge. Nat jsaw that he must 
temporize for Madge's sake. 

"I'll have to consult my companions," 
he answered. 

"Of course," answered Axelson. 
"That is reasonable.; Tell them that 
unless they agree to join me it will be 
necessary for them to die. Do Earth 
men mind death? We hate it on Eros, 
and the Moon men hate it, too, though 
they have a queer legend, that some- 
thing in the shape of an invisible man 
raises from their afehes. My father 
told me that that superstition existed 
on Earth in his time,- too. Go and talk 
to your companions, [Nathaniel Lee." 

The Black Caesar's voice was almost 
friendly. He clapped] Nat on the shoul- 
'der again, and called the graybeard to 
conduct him back to his prison. 



THE LORD OF SPACE 



169 



"OlfrCaptain Lee, I'm so glad you're 
back I" exclaimed Madge. "We've been 
afraid for you. Is he such a terrible 
man, .this Black Caesar?" 

Nat sneezed, then grinned malevo- 
lently. "Well, he's not' exactly the 
old-fashioned idea of a Sunday-school 
teacher," he answered. Of course he 
could not tell the girl about Axelson's 
proposal. 

THE little group of prisoners stood 
on the uuper deck of the black 
ship and watched the Moon men 
scurrying about the landing-stage as 
she hovered to her position. 

Axelson's father had not erred when 
he had called the tiny planet, Eros, a 
heavenly paradise, for no other term 
could have described it. 

They were in an atmosphere so simi- 
lar to that of Earth that they could, 
breathe with complete freedom, but 
there seemed to be a lightness and a 
vigor in their limbs that indicated that 
the air was supercharged with oxygen 
or ozone. The presence of this in large 
amounts was indicated by the intense 
blueness of the sky, across which fleecy 
clouds were drifting, i 

And in that sky what looked like, 
threescore moons were circling with 
extraordinary swiftness. From thirty 
to forty full moons, of all sizes, from 
that of a sun to that of a brilliant 
planet, and riding black againit the 
blue. 

The sun, hardly smaller than when 
seen from Earth, shone in the zenith, 
and Earth and Mars hung in the east 
and north respectively, each like a 
blood-red >sun. ; \ 

The moons were some of the thou- 
sand other asteroids, weaving their 
lacy patterns in and out among each 
other. But, stupendous as the sight 
was, 'it was toward the terrestrial scene 
that the party turned their eyes as the 
black ship settled. 

A sea of sapphire blue lapped sands 
of silver and broke into soft lines of 
foam. To the water's edge extended a 
lawn of brightest green, and behind 



this an arm of the sea extended into 
what looked like ja tropical forest. 
Most of the trees were palmlike, but 
towered to immense heights, their foli- 
age swaying in a gentle breeze. There 
were apparently no elevations, and yet, 
so small was the little sphere that the 
ascending curve gave the illusion of 
distant heights, while the horizon, in- 
stead of seeming to rise, lay apparent- 
ly perfectly flat, producing an extra- 
ordinary feeling of insecurity. 

Near the water's edge a palatial man- 
sion, built of hewn logs and of a single 
story, stood in a 'garden of brilliant 
flowers. Nearer, beyond the high land- 
ing-stage, were the great shipbuilding 
works, and near them an immense and 
slightly concave mirror flashed back 
the light of the sun. 

"The death ray I" whispered Brent, 
to Nat. 

Axelson came up to the party as the 
ship settled down. "Welcome to Eros," 
he said cordially. "My father' to Itf me 
that in some Earth tongue that name 
meant 'love'." ] " 

NEVER, perhaps, was so strange a 
feast held as that with which 
Axelson entertained his guests that 
day. Dwarfish Moon men passed viands 
and a sort of palm wine in the great 
banquet-room, which singularly re- 
sembled one of those early twentieth 
century interiors shown in museums. 
Only the presence of a dozen of the 
aged guards, armed with ray-rods, lent 
a grimness to the scene. 

Madge sat on Axelson's right, and 
Nat on his left. The girl's lightheart- 
edness had left her; her face grew 
strained as Axelson's motives — which 
Nat had not dared disclose to her — dis- 
closed themselves in his manner. 

Once, when he laijl his finger for a 
moment against her white throat, she 
started, and for a moment it seemed as 
if the gathering storm must break. 

For Nat had talked with his men, 
and all had agreed that they would not 
turn traitor, though they intended to 
temporize as long as possible, in the 



170 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



hope of catching the Black Caesar un- 
awares. 

" Then slowly a somber twilight began 
to fall, and Axelson rose. 

"Let us walk in the gardens during 
the reign of Erebos," he said. 

"Erebos?" asked Nat. 

"The black "world that overshadows 
us each sleeping period," answered 
Axelson. 

Nat knew what he meant. The dark 
companion of Eros revolves around it 
every six hours ; the day of Eros would 
therefore never bf longer than six 
hours, this without reckoning the revo- 
lution of Eros around the sun. But 
owing to its small size, it was probable 
that it was bathed in almost perpetual 
sunshine. 

The sweet scent of the flowers, much 
stronger than of any flowers on earth, 
filled the air. They walked across the 
green lawn and entered a jungle path, 
with bamboos and creeping plants on 
either side, and huge palmlike trees. 
Behind them stalked the guards with 
their ray-rods. 

A lake of deepest black disclosed it- 
self. Suddenly Madge uttered a scream 
and clung to Nat. "Look, look!" she 
cried. "It's horrible I" * 

OUDDENLY Naty realized that the 
'* 3 lake swarmed with monsters. They 
were of crocodilian form, but twice the 
size of the /largest crocodile, and 
sprawled over one another in the slftl- 
lows beside the margin. As the party 
drew. near, an enormous monster began 
waddling on its clawed feet toward 
them. 

A mouth half the length of the crea- 
ture opened, disclosing a purplish 
tongue and hideous fangs. Madge 
screamed again. 

"Ah, io fear exists on Earth, too?" 
asked Axelson blandly. "That makes 
my conquest sure. I suspected it, and 
yet I was not sure that science had not 
conquered it. But there is no cause 
for fear. A magnetic field protects us. 
Seel" 

For the Waddling monster suddenly 



stopped short as if brought up sharply 
by the bars of a cage; and drew back. 

Axelson turned and wheezed in the 
Moon language — if : the gibbering of 
the dwarfs could be called speech — and 
one of the guards answered him. 

"These primitive dwellers on Eros I 
have preserved," said Axelson, "as a 
means of discipline. The Moon animals 
are, afraid of them. I; keep a supply of 
those who have transgressed my laws 
to feed them. Seel" ' 

He turned and pointed. Two guards 
were bringing a gibbering, screeching, 
struggling Moon mart with them. De- 
spite his strength, he 'seemed incapable 
of making any resigtahce, but his whole 
body quivered, JtS his hideous face 
was contorted with agony of terror. 

At a distance of serine fifty feet they 
turned aside into : a little bypath 
through the jungle, reappearing close 
beside the lake upon k raised platform. 
And what happened next happened so 
swiftly that Nat was finable to do any- 
thing to prevent it. j 

The guards disappeared ; the Moon 
man, as if propelled py some invisible 
force, moved forwarf jerkily to the 
lake's edge. Instantly one of the 
saurians 1 had seized him in its jaws, 
and another had wrenched half the 
body away, and the: whole fighting, 1 - 
squirming mass vanished in the depths. 

And from far away tame the screech- 
ing chant of the Mooh men, as if in in- 
vocation to some hideous deity. 

And, moviifg perceptibly, the huge 
black orb of Eros's dark satellite crept 
over the sky, completely covering it. 

AXELSON stepped forward to 
where Nat stood, supporting 
Madge in his arms; The girl had 
fainted with horror atl the scene. 

"Your answer, Nathaniel Lee," he 
said softly. "I know you have been 
postponing the decision. Now I will 
take the girl, and yqu shall give me 
your answer. Will y$u and these men 
join me, or will you die as the Moon 
man died?" He spokje wheezily, as if 
he, like Nat, had a cold. 



THE LORD OF SPACE 



171 



And he put his arm around Madge. 

Next moment something happened to 
him that had never happened in his life 
before. The Black Caesar went down 
under a well-directed blow to the jaw. 

He leaped to his feet trembling with ' 
fury and barked a command. Instant- 
ly the old guards had hurled them- 
selves forward. And behind them a 
horde of Moon men came ambling. 

While the guards covered their pris- 
oners with their ray-rods, two Moon 
men seized each of them, imprisoning 
bim in their unbreakable grasp. 

Axelson pointed upwafd. "When the 
reign of Erebos is past," he said, "you 
become food for the denizens of the 
lake, unless you have agreed to serve 
me." 

And he raised Madge in his arms, 
laughing as the girl fought and strug- 
gled to resist him. „ 

"Madge!" cried Nat, trying to run 
toward her. 

So furious were his struggles that 
for a moment he succeeded in throwing 



off the Moon men's grasp. TJjen he 
was caught again, and, fighting'dejs- 

pcrately, was borne off by the dwarfs "The penalty v/ould'be terrible, 

through the shadows. 6noulcH>e thrown to the monsters." 



"Well, what do you want?" asked 
Nat. 

"You love the Earth < roman. I re- 
member, when I was a b( y, we used to 
love. I had forgotten. There was a 
girl in Stamford. . vTell me, is it 
true that this is the year 2044, and that 
the proletariat has not yet triumphed?" 

"It's truenT said Nat. "Those dreams 
are finished: We're proud of the World 
Federation. Tell me about Madge 
Dawes — rae Earth woman. Is she 
safe?" 

"He has taken her to his house. I 
do not think she is harmed.' He is ill. 
He is closely guarded*. There are ru- 
mors afoot. I do not kn«w." 
"What do you want, JMen?" 
"If the Black Caesar dies, will you 
take me back to Earth again? I long 
so for the old Earth life. I will be 
your slave, if only I can set foot on 
Earth before I die." 

"Can you rescue us?" Nat held his 
breath. ' 
"The Moon men are on guard." 
"They have no ray-guns and you' 
have." 

I 



They traversed the border of the 
lake until a small stone building dis- 
closed itself. Nat and the others were 
thrust inside into pitch darkness. The 
door clanged; in vain they hurled 
themselves against it. It was of wood, 
but it was as solid as the stone itself, 
and it did not give an inch for all 
their struggles. 

M "IX THERE is your Kommandant ?" 

V V The whisper seemed in the 
■tone hut itself. "Your Nathaniel Lee. 
I must speak to him. I am the guard 
who brought him to the Black Caesar 
on board the ship." 

"I'm here," said Nat. "Where are 
you?" 

"I am in the house of the ray. I 
■m on guard there. I am speaking into 
the telephone which runs only Jto 
where you are. ... Ypu can speak any- 
where in tile hut, and I shall hear you." 



"Can you get us each a ray-gun ? 
Will you risk it, to get back to Earth?" 
asked Nat. 

A pause. Then, "My friend, I am 
coming." 

Nat heard Benson, hissing in his ear, 
"If we can surprise them, we can get 
possession of the black ship and re- 
turn." 

"We must get Madge Dawes." 
"And smash the mirror," put in 
Brent. 

After that there was nothing to do 
but wait. 

THE door clickecLopen. An indis- 
tinct form stood: in the entrance. 
It was already growing light ; the dark 
satellite that eclipsed Eros was pass- 
ing. 

"Hush! I have brought you ray- 
rods !" It was the old man with whom 
Nat had spoken on the boat. Under hitS 



172 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



arm he held five metallic rods, tipped 
with luminous glass. He handed one 
to each of the prisoners. "Do you know 
how to use them ?" he asked. 

Nat examined his. "It's an old-style 
rod that was used on earth fifty years 
ago," he told bis men. "I've seen them 
in museums. It came into use in the 
Second World War of 1950 or there- 
abouts. You slip Dack the safety catch 
and press this button, taking aim as 
one did with the pistol. You fellows 
have seen pistols?" 

"My father had an old one," sai<] the 
chief mate, Barnes. 

"How many .times can they be fired 
without reloading?" Nat asked the old 
guard. 

"Ten times; sometimes more; and 
they were all freshly loaded yester- 
day." 

"Take us to wrrere Axelson is." 

"First you must destroy the guards. 
I sent' the one on duty here away on 
some pretext. But the others may be 
here at any moment. Talk lower. Are 
you going to kill them?" 

"We must," said Nat. 

The old fellow began to sob.. *'We 
were companions together.' * They 
seized us and imprisoned us together, 
the capitalists, years; ago. I thought 
the proletariat would have won, and/ 
you say it is all different. I am an oldj 
man, and life is sad and strange." , 

"Listen! Is Axelson in the house'J'y 
demanded Nat. 

"He is in his secret room. I do not 
know the way. None of us has ever 
entered it." 

"And Madge?" 

"She was with him. I do not know 
anything more." He sank down, groan- 
ing, broken. 



N 



AT pushed his, way past him. It 
was fast growing light now. A^ 
ray of sunshine shot from beneath the 
edge of the dark sphere overhead, 
which still filled almost all the heav- 
ens. At that moment the hideous face 
and squat body of one of the Moon 
men came into view at the end of the 



path. The creature stopped, gibbering 
with surprise, and then rushed for- 
ward, mewing like a cat. ^ 
Nat aimed his ray-rod and pressed 
the button. The streak of light, not 
quite aimed, in Hat's excitement, 
sheared off one~jide of the Moon man's 
face. 

The creature rocked where it stood, 
raised its voice in a screech, and rushed 
forward again, arms jflailing. And this 
time Nat got home. The streak passed 
right through the body of the monster, 
which collapsed intoia heap of calcined 
carbon. 

But its screech had brought the other 
dwarfs running to the scene. In a mo- 
ment the path was blocked by a score 
of the hideous monsters, which, taking 
in what was happening, came forward 
in a yelling bunch. j 

The ray-rods streaked their message 
of death into the t4ick of them. Yet 
so fierce was the ruph that some parts 
got home. Arms, leg*, and barrel chests, 
halves of men, covering the five with 
that impalpable black powder into 
which their bodies! were dissolving. 
Nat remembered afterward the horror 
of a grinning face, Apparently loose in 
the air, and a flailing arm that lashed, 
his chest. 

For fifteen seconds, perhaps, it was 
like struggling wtth some vampire 
creatures in a hideous dream. And 
then, just when it seemed to Nat that 
he was-going mad, |he found the path 
free, and the huddled remnants of the 
Moon men piled up about him on every 
side. j 

He emptied two ipore ray-shots into 
the writhing mass, and saw it cease to 
quiver and then dissolve into the black 
powder. He turned and looked at hit 
companions. They, too, showed the 
horror of the strain they had under- 
gone. 

"We must kill the guards now," Nat 
panjted. "And then .find Madge and 
save her." 



"We're with you, 



answered Brent, 



and together the fiire rushed into the 
sunlight and the often. 



THE LORD OF SPACE 



173 



THERE were no guards on duty at 
the entrance of the house, and the 
door^tood wide open. Nat rushed 
through the door at the head of his men. 
A single guard was in the hall, but he 
only looked up as they came in. And 
it was evident that he was in no con- 
dition to resist, for he was in the grip 
of some terrible disease. 

His features were swollen so that 
they were hardly recognizable, and 
hoarse, panting breaths came from his 
lungs. He was so far gone that he 
hardly registered surprise at the ad- 
vent of the five. 
"Where's Axrlson?" demanded Nat. 
The guard pointed toward the end of 
the corridor, then let his arm fall. Nat 
led his men along the half-dark pas- 
sage. 

At the end of the f orridor two more 
guards were on duty, but one was col- 
lapsed upon the floor, apparently un- 
conscious, and the other, making a fee- 
ble attempt to draw his ray-rod, crum- 
bled into ashes as Brent firjd. The 
five burst through the door. 

They found themselves in the ban-' 
quet-hall. The remnants of the meal 
wer"e still upon the table, and three 
Moon men, looking as if they had been 
poisoned, were writhing on the floor. 
At the farther end of the hall was an- 
other door. 

This gave upon a central hall, with a 
door in each of its four sides, and a 
blaze of sunlight coming through the 
crystal roof. The five stopppd, baffled. 
Then of a sudden Axelspn's voice 
broke the silence — his' yoice, yet 
changed almost beyond recognition, 
hoarse, broken, and gasping: ,/ 

"Try the do6rs, Nathaniel Lee. Try 
each door in turn, and then go back. 
And know that in an instant I can blast 
you to nothingness where you stand I" 

And suddenly there came. Madge's 
voice, "He can't I He can't, Nat. He's 
dying, and he knows it. I won't let 
him, and be hasn't got the strength to 
move." 

"Which door?" cried Nat in despara- 
tion. 



"None of the doors. They're a trick," 
came Madge's voice. "Co forward and 
press the grooved panel upon the wall 
in frc:it of you." 

NAT stepped forward, found the 
panel, and pressed it. The wall 
swung open, like two folded doors, re- 
vealing another room within, perfectly 
circular. 

It contained a quantity of pieces of 
apparatus, some glowing with light, 
some dark, and a radio transmitting 
set; it was evidently the secret lair of 
the Black Caesar. And there he was', 
trapped at last by the mortal illness 
that had overtaken him I b 

He was lying upon the couch, his 
great form stretcjied out, his features 
hideously swollen by the same disease 
that had attacked the guards. 

Nat raised' his ray-rod, but Axelson 
feebly put up his hand, and Nat low- 
ered the weapon. And, as the five gath- 
ered about the dying man, again Nat 
felt that strange sense of pathos and' 
pity for him. 

He had never known Barth life, and 
he was not to be measured by the com- 
mon standards applicable on Earth. 

"Don't fire, Nat," said Madge in a 
shaky voice. She was seated beside 
Axelson, and — the wonder of it — she 
was sponging the foam from his lips 
and moistening his forehead. She 
raised a crystal that contained some 
fluid to his lips, and he drained it 
greedily. 

"So — Earth wins, Nathaniel Lee," 
whispered Axelson hoarsely. "I am 
dying. I know it. It is the same 
dreaded disease that came to the Moon 
at , the time of my father's landing 
there. Three-fourths of the Moon an- 
imals died. It is moftal. The lungs 
burn away. 

"My father told me that on Earth it 
is not mortal. He called it 'cold' — but 
I any burning hot." 

Then only did Nat understand, and 
tne irony of it made him catch his 
breath and grit his teeth to check his 
hysterical laughter. The Black Caesar, 



174 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



the terror of Earth, was dying qf a 
common cold which he himself had 
given him. 

The coryza germ, almost harmless on 
Earth, among a population habituated 
to it for countless generations, had as- 
sumed the potency of a plague here, 
where no colds had ever been known — 
among the Moon men, and even among 
the guards, after their lifetime in the 
gennless climate of Eros. 

"I've failed; Nathaniel Lee," came 
the Black Caesar's voice. "And yet 
that hardly troubles me. There is 
something more that I do not under- 
stand. She is a creature like ourselves 
— with will and reason. She is not like 
the Moon women. She told me that 
she did 'not wish to be queen of the 
Earth because she did not love me. I 
do not understand. And so — I am glad 
to go." 

A GASP came frpm Axelson's 
throat as 'he raised his fecad and 
tried to speak, but the death-rattle was 
already in his threat. A slight strug- 
gle, and the massive form upon the 
couch was nothing but inanimate clay. 

Madge rose from beside him, and the 
tears were streaming down her, fa*. 

"He wasnyt a bad man, Nat," she said. 
."He was — gentle with me. He didn't 
understand; that was all. When I re- 
fused to be his queen, he was overcome 
with bewilderment. Oh, Nat, I can 
never, never write this story for the 
Universal News Syndicate." 1 
Nat led her, sobbing, from the room. 
Soon he succeeded in getting into 
teleradio communication with Earth. 
He broadcast the news that the Black 
Caesar was dead, and that his power 
for evil was at an end forever. 

Then, in the few hours of daylight 
that remained, he set his men to work 
to smalh the ray outfit that had de- 
stroyed China. There was some princi- 
ple involved which he did not alto- 
gether understand, though Brent pro- 
fessed to have a clue to it, "but it was 
evident that, except for the ray, Axel- 



son had possessed no knowledge su- 
perior to that of the Earth scienjitu. 

Of the guards, a few were already 
recovering, principally those of com- 
paratwely younger age. Not a Moon 
man, on the other hand, had survived 
the epidemic. As soon as Nat had got. 
the guards out of the house, he reduced 
it to ashes by the aid of an old-fash- 
ioned box of phosphoric matches. 

As the dark satellite was again 
creeping over Eros, the black ship set 
sail. 

BUT of the return journey to the 
Moon, where they transferred to 
their own ship, of their landing at New 
York, and of the triumphal reception 
that was accorded them, this is no 
place to speak.; Nat's journey with 
Madge from the center of the city, in 
what was the old Borough of West- 
chester, to his home in the suburb of 
Hartford, was a continual ovation. 

Crowds lined the air-route, and every 
few miles, i so thick was the air-traffic, 
he was forced td hover and address the 
cheering multitudes. Hartford itself 
was en f ete, and across the main road 
the City Bosses had hung an old-fash- 
ioned banner, strung from house to 
house on either side, bearing the 
legend: For World President: NA- 
THANIEL LEE I, \ 

Nat turned to Madge, who was 
seated beside him silently. "Ever bear 
of 'getting married?' " he asked. N 
"Of course I've heard of it," repHed 
the girl indignantly. "Do you think 
I'm as dumb as that, Nat Lee? Why, 
those old-fashioned novels are part of 
the public schools' curriculum." 

"Pity those days can't come back. 
You ought to be a World Presidenteu, 
you know," said Nat. "I was thinking 
if we registered as companionate*, 1 
could take you into the White House, 
and you'd have a swell time there tak- 
ing X-rays on visiting days." 

"Well," answered Madge slowly, T 
never thought of that. It might be 
worth trying out." 




The Second Satellite 



7"Af city of the irog-mvm 



By Edmond Hamilton 



field 
them. 



NORMAN and Hackctt, bulky 
in their thick flying suits, 
seemed to fill the little office. 
Across the room Harding, the 
superintendent, contemplated 
Two planes were curving up 

into the dawn to- 

{ether from\ the 
field outside, their 
motors thunder- 
ous as they roared 
over the building. 

When their clamor had receded, Hard- 
ing spoke : 

"I don't know which of you two is 
crazier," he said. "You, Norman, to 
propose a foo] trip like this, or you, 
Hackett, to go with him." 

Hackett grinned, but the long, lean 



Earth-men war od frog-vampires for the 
emancipation of the human cowl of 
Earth's second satellite. 



175 



face of Norman was earnest. "No doubt 
it all sounds a little insane," he said, 
"but I'm convinced I'm Tight." 

The field superintendent shook his 
head. "Norman, you ought to be writ- 
ing fiction instead of flying. A 
second satellite — 
arm Fellows and 
the others on it — 
what the devil I" 

"What other 
theory can ac- 
count for their disappearance?" asked 
Norman calmly. "You know that since 
the new X-type planes were introduced, 
hundreds of fliers all over Earth have 
been trying for altitude records in 
them. Twenty-five miles — thirty — 
thirty-five — the records have been 



176 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



broken every day. But out of the hun- 
dreds of fliers who have gone up to 
those immense heights, four-have never 
come down nor been seen again I 

"One vanished over northern 
Sweden, one over Australia, one over 
Lower California, and one, Fellows, 
himself, right here over Long Island. 
You saw the globe on whjch I marked 
those four spots, and you saw that 
when connected they formed a perfect 
circle around the Earth. The only ex- 
planation is that the four fliers when 
they reached a forty-mile height were 
caught up by some body moving round 
Ear^h in that circular orbit, some un- 
known moon circling Earth inside its 
atmosphere, a second satellite df 
Earth's whose existence has until now 
never been suspected!" 

HARDING shook his head again. 
"Norman, your theory would be 
all right if it were not for the cold 
fact that no such satellite has ever been 
glimpsed."/ \ 

"Can you glimpse a bullet passing 
you?" Norman retorted. "The two 
fliers at Sweden and Lower California 
vanished within three hours of each 
other, on opposite sides of the Earth. 
That means that this second satellite, 
as I've computed, circles Earth 1 once 
every six hours, and travelling al that 
terrific spee'd it is n( more visible to 
us' of Earth than a rifle bullet would 
be." 

"Moving through Earth's atmosphere 
at such speed, indeed, one would ex- 
pect it to burn up by its own friction 
with the air. But it does not, because 
its own gravitational power would 
draw to itself enough air to make a 
dense little atmosphere for itself that 
would cling to it and shield it as it 
speeds through Earth's upper air. No, 
I'm certain that this second satellite 
exists, Harding, and I'm as certain that 
it's responsible for the vanishing of 
those four fliers." 

"And now you and Hackett have 
figured when it will be passing over 
here and are going up in an X-type 



yourselves to look for it," Harding said 
musingly. 

"Look for iif" echoed Hackett 
"We're not going to climb forty miles 
just to get a look at the damn thing— 
we're going to try landing on it I" 

"You're c/azy sure I" the field super- 
intendent exploded. "If Fellows and. 
those others got caught by the thing 
and never came down again, why in the 
name of all that's holy would you two 
want — " He stopped suddenly. "Oh, 
I think I «ec," > he said, awkwardly. 
"Fellows was rather a buddy of you 
two, wasn't he?" 

"The best that ever flew a crippled 
Nieuport against three Fokkers to. pull 
ub out of a hole," said Norman softly. 
"Weeks he's been gone, and if it bad 
been Hackett and I he'd be all over the 
sky looking for us— the damned luna- 
tic. Well, we're not going to let him 
down." , 

"I see," Harding repeated. Then— 
"Well, here comes your . mechanic, 
Norman, so your ship must be ready. 
I'll go,. with you. It's an event to see 
two Columbuses starting fof^ another 
world." J 

THE gray, dawn-light over the fly- 
ing field was flushing to faint rose 
as the three strode out to where the 
' long X-type stood, its strangely curved 
wings, enclosed cabin and flat, fanlike 
tail gleaming dully. Its motor was al- 
ready roaring with power and the 
plane's stubby wheels strained against 
the chocks. In their great suits Nor- 
man and Hackett were like two im- 
mense ape-figures in the uncertain 
light, to the eyes of those about them. 

"Well, all the . luck," Harding told 
them. "You know I'm pulling for you, 
but — I suppose it's useless to say any- 
thing about being careful." 

"I seem to have heard the words," 
Hackett grinned, as he and Norman 
shook the field superintendent's band. 

"It's all the craziest chance," Norman 
told the other. "And if we don't come 
down in a reasonable time — well, you'll 
know that our theory was right, and 



THE SECOND SATELLITE 



177 



you can broadcast it or not as ydu 
please." 

"I hope for your sake that you're 
dead wrong," smiled the official. "I've 
told you two to get off the Earth a lot 
of times, but I never meant it serious- 
ly" 

Harding stepped back as the two 
clambered laboriously into the cramped 
cabin. Norman took the controls, the 
door slammed, and as the chocks were 
jerked back and the motor roared 
louder the long plane curved up at a 
dizzy angle from* the field into the 
dawn. Hackett waved a thick arm down 
toward the diminishing figures on the 
field below ; then turned from the win- 
dow to peer ahead with his companion. 

The plane flew in a narrow ascend- 
ing spiral upward, at an angle that 
would have been impossible to any ship 
save an X-type. Norman's eyes roved 
steadily over the instrument as they 
rost, his ears unconsciously alert for 
each Explosion of the motor. Earth re- 
ceded swiftly into a great gray con- 
cave surface as they climbed higher 
and higher. 

By the time the five-mile height was 
reached Earth's surface had changed 
definitely from concave to convex. The 
plane was ascending by then in a some- 
what wider spiral, but its climb was as 
steady and sure as ever. Frost began 
to form quickly on the cabin's Win- 
dows, creeping out from the edges. 
Norman spoke a word over the motor's 
muffled thunder, and Hackett snicked 
on the electrical radiators. The frost 
crept back as their warm, clean heat 
flooded the cabin. 

Ten miles — fifteen — they had reached 
already altitudes impossible but a few 
years before, though it was nothing to 
the X-types. As they passed the ten- 
mile mark, Hackett set the compact 
oiygen-generator going. A clean, tangy 
odor filled the cabin as it began func- 
tioning. Twenty miles — twenty-two— 

AFTER a time Norman pointed 
mutely to the clock on the instru- 
ment board, and Hackett nodded. They 



were well within their time schedule, 
having calculated to reach the forty- 
mile height 'at ten, the hour when, 
by its computed orbit, the second satel- 
lite should be passing overhead. " — 26 
— 27 — 28 — " Hackett muttered the alti- 
meter figures to himself as the needle 
crept over them. 

Glancing obliquely down through the 
window he saw that Earth was now a 
huge gray ball beneath them, white 
cloud-oceans obscuring the drab details 
of its surface here and there. " — 31 — 
32 — " The plane was climbing more 
slowly, and at a lesser angle. Even the 
X-type had to struggle to rise in the 
attenuated air now about them. Only 
the super-light, super-powered plane 
could ever have reached vthe terrific 
height. / 

It was at the thirty-four mile level 
that the real battle for altitude began. 
Norman kept the plane curving stead- 
ily upward, handling it with surpass- 
ing skill in the rarefied air. Frost was 
on its windows now despite the heating 
mechanism. Slowly the altimeter 
needle crept to the<forty mark. Nor- 
man kept the ship circling, its wings 
tilted slightly, but not climbing. Earth 
a great gray misty ball beneath. 

"Can't keep this height long," he 
jerked. "If our second satellite doesn't 
show up in minutes we've had a trip 
for nothing." 

"All seems mighty different up 
here," was Hackett's shouted comment. 
"Easy enough to talk down there about 
hopping onto the thing, but up here — 
hell, there's nothing but air and mighty 
little of that r 

Norman grinned. "There'll be more. 
If I'm right about this thing we won't 
need to hop it — its own atmosphere 
will pick us up." 

Both looked anxious as the motor 
sputtered briefly. But in a moment it 
was again roaring steadily. Norman 
shook his head. 

"Maybe a fool's errand after all. No 
— I'm still sure we're right! But it 
seems that we don't prove it this time." 

"Going down ?" asked Hackett. 



178 ASTOUNDING STORIES 

i 



"We'll have to, in minutes. Even 
with its own air-feed the motor can't 
stand this height for — " 

l^rORMAN never finished the 
JLN words. There was a sound, a 
keen rising, rushing sound of immense 
power that reached their ears over the 
motor's roar. Then in an instant the 
universe seemed to go mad about them ; 
they saw the gray ball of Earth and the 
sun above skyrocketing around them as 
the plane whirled, madly. 

The rushing sound was in that mo- 
ment thunderous, terrible, and as winds 
smashed and rocked the plane like 
giant hands, Hackett glimpsed another 
sphere that was not the sphere of 
Earth, a greenish globe that expanded 
with lightning speed in the firmament 
beside their spinning, plane ! The winds 
stilled; the green globe changed 
abruptly to a landscape of green land 
and sea toward which the plane was 
falling! Norman was fighting the con- 
trols — land and sea were gyrating up 
to them with dizzy speed — crash > 

With that cracking crash the plane 
was motionless. Sunlight poured 
through its windows, and great green 
growths were all around it. Hackett, 
despite Norman's warning cry, forced 
the door open and was bursting out* 
side, Norman after him. They stag- 
gered and fell, with curious lightness 
and slowness, on the ground outside, 
then clutched the plane for support 
and gazed stupefiedly around them. 

The plane had crashed down into a 
thicket of giant 'green reeds that rose 
a yard over their heads, its pancake 
landing having apparently not dam- 
aged it. The ground beneath their feet 
was soft and soggy, the air warm and 
balmy, and the giant reeds hid all the 
surrounding landscape from view. 

In the sky the sun burned near one 
horizon with unusual brilliance. But 
it was dwarfed, in size, by the huge 
gray circle that filled half the heavens 
overhead. A giant gray sphere it was, 
screened here and there by .floating 
white mists and clouds, that had yet 



plain on" it the outlines of dark conti- 
nents and gleaming seas. A quaking 
realization held the two as they stared 
up at it. 

a TT* ARTH I" Norman was babbling. 

Cj "It's Earth, Hackett — above us; 
my God, I can't believe even yet that 
we've done it I" 

"Then we're on — the satellite — the 
second satellite! — " Hackett fought 
for reality. "Those winds that caught 
us-*"'' 

TThey were the atmosphere of this 
■wftrld, of the second satellite! They 
caught us and carriecAus on inside this 
smaller world's atmosphere, Hackett 
We're moving with it around Earth at 
terrific speed now!" 

"The second satellite, and we on it I" 
Hackett whispered, incredulously. "But 
these reeds — it can't all be like this—" 

They stepped together away from 
the plane. The effort sent each of them 
sailing upward in a great, slow leap, to 
float down more than a score of feet 
from the plane. But unheeding in their 
eagerness this strange effect of the 
satellite's lesser gravitational power, 
they moved on, each step a giant, 
clumsy leap. Four, such steps took 
them out of the towering reeds onto 
clear ground. 

It was a gentle, grassy slope they 
were on, stretching away along a gray- 
green sea that extended out to the as- 
toundiftgly near horizon on their right 
To the left it rose into low hills cov- 
ered with dense masses of green jun- 
glelike vegetation. Hackett and Nor- 
man, though, gazed neither at sea or 
hills for the moment, but at the half- 
score grotesque figures who had turned 
toward them as they emerged from the 
reeds, A sick sense of the unreal held 
them as they gazed, frozen with horror. 
For the great figures returning their 
gaze a few yards from them were — 
frog-men t 

FROG-MEN I Great mottled green 
shapes seven to eight feet in 
height, with bowed, powerful legs and 



THE SECOND SATELLITE 



179 



inns that ended in webbed paws. The 
heads were bulbous ones in which wide, 
unwinking frog-eyes were set at the 
Bides, the mouths white-lipped and 
white-lined. Three of the creatures 
held each a black metal tube-and-han- 
dle oddly like a target-pistol.r 

"Normanl" Hackett's voice was a 
crescendo of horror. "Norman!" 

"Back to the planet" Norman cried 
thickly. "The plane—" 

The two staggered back, but the frog- 
men, recovering from their own first 
surprise, were running forward with 
great hopping steps I The two fliers 
Bung themselves back in a floating leap 
toward the reeds, but the green mon- 
sters were quick after them. A croak- 
ing cry came from one and. as another 
raised his tube-and-handle, something 
flicked from it that burst close beside 
Norman. There was no sound or light 
as it burst, but the reeds for a few feet 
around it vanished I 



compact mechanism and control-board 
filled the prow, while at the stern and 
sides were long tubes mounted on 
swivels like machine-guns. 

The frog-men motioned Norman and 
Hackett into one, fastening the two 
prisoners and themselves into their 
seats with metal straps provided for the 
purpose. Four had entered the one 
boat, the others that of the captives. 
One at the prow moved his paws over 
the control-board and with a purring 
of power the boat, followed by the 
other, rose smoothly into Jfche air. It 
headed out over the gray-green sea, 
land dropping quickly from sight be- 
hind, the horizons water-bounded on 
all sides. From their nearness Norman 
guessed that this second satellite of 
Earth's was small indeed beside its 
mother planet. He had to look up to 
earth's gTeat gray sphere overhead to 
attain a sense of reality. 



Hackett was whispering beside him, 
the frog-men watchful. "Norman, it's 
HOARSExry from Hackett— the^-not real — it can't be real I These things 
creatures had reached him,' — these boats — intelligent like men—" 

The other sought to steady him. 
"It's a different world, Hackett. Grav- 
itation different, light different, every- 
thing different, and evolution here has 
had a different course. On Earth men 
evolved to be the most intelligent life- 
forms, but here the frog-races, it 
seems." 

"But* where are they taking us? 
Could we ever find the plane again?" 

"Cod knows. If we ever get away 
from ^ these things we might. And 
we've got to find Fellows, too; I won- 
der where he ison this world." 



grasped him at the edge of the reeds I 
Norman swerved in his floating leap 
to strike the struggling flier and frog- 
men. The scene whirled around him as 
he fought them, great paws reaching 
for him. With a sick, frantic rage he 
felt his clenched fist drive against cold, 
green, billowy bodies. Croaking cries 
sounded in his ears ; then, Hackett and 
he were jerked to their feet, held tight- 
ly by four of the creatures. 

"My God, Norman," panted Hackett, 
helpless. "What are they — frog- 
things?—" 

"Steady, Hackett. They're the people 
of the second satellite, it seems ; wait 1" 

One of the armed frog-men ap- 
proached and inspected them, and then 
croaked an order in ? deep voice. 
Then, still holding the two tightly, the 
party of monsters began to move along 
the slope, skirting the sea's edge. In 
t few minutes they reached two curi- 
ous objects resting on the slope. They 
Kerned long alack metal boats, slen- 
der and with sharp prow and stem. A 



FOR many minutes •the two boats 
raced on at great speed over the 
endless waters before the watery sky- 
line was broken far ahead by some- 
thing dark and unmoving. Hackett and 
Norman peered with intense interest 
toward it. It seemed at first a giant 
squat mountain rising from the sea, but 
as they shot nearer they saw that its 
outline was too regular, and that color- 
sal as it was in size it was the work of 



180 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



intelligence. They gasped as they 
came nearer and got a better view 
of it. » 

For it was a gigantic dome of black 
metal rising sheer from the lonely sea, 
ten miles if anything in diameter, a 
third that in greatest height. There 
was no gate or window or opening of 
any kind hi it. Just the /colossal smooth 
black dome rearing .from the watery 
plain. Yet the two boats were flashing 
lower toward it. 

"They can't be going inside I" Hack- 
ett conjectured. "There's no way in 
and what could be in there ? The whole 
thing's mad — " 

"There's Borne- way," Norman said. 
"They're slowing — " 

The flying-boats were indeed slowing 
as they dipped lower. They were very 
near the dome now, its curving wall 
a looming, sky-high barrier before 
them. /Suddenly the boats dipped 
sharply downward toward the green 
sea. Before the two fliers could com- 
prehend their purpose, could do aught 
more than draw instinctive great 
breaths in preparation, the two craft 
had shot down into the waters and 
were arrowing down through the,green 
depths. 

Blinded, flung against his metal strap 
by the resistance off the waters they 
ripped through, Norman yet retained 
enough of consciousness to glimpse 
beams of light that stabbed ahead from 
the prows of their rushing boats, to 
see vaguely strange creatures of the 
deep blundering in and out of those 
beams as the boats hurtled forward. 
The water that forced its way between 
his lips was fresh, he was vaguely 
aware, and even as he fought to hold 
his breath was aware too that the frog- 
men seemed in no way incommoded by 
the sudden transition into the water, 
their amphibian nature allowing them 
to stay under it far longer than any 
human could do. 

The boats ripped through the waters 
at terrific speed and in a few seconds 
there loomed before them the giant 
metal wall of the great dome, going 



down into the depths here. Norman 
glimpsed vaguely that the whole colos- 
sal dome rested on a vast pedestal-like 
mountain of rock that rose from the 
sea's floor almost to the surface. Then 
a great round opening in the wall ; the 
boats flashed into it and were hurtling 
along a water-filled tunneL Norman 
felt his lungs near bunting — when the 
tunnel turned sharply upward and the 
boats whizzed up and abruptly out of 
the water-tunnel into air I 

BUT it was not the open air again. 
They were beneath the gigantic 
dome I For as Norman and Hackett 
breathed deep, awe fell on their facet 
as they took in the scene. Far over- 
head stretched the dome's colossally 
curving roof, and far out on all sides. 
It was lit beneath that roof by a clear 
light that the two would have sworn 
was sunlight. The dome was in effect 
the roof of a gigantic, illuminated 
building, and ! upon its floor there 
stretched a mighty city. 

The city of the frog-men I Their 
boats were rising up over it and Nor- 
man and Hackett saw it clear. Square 
rnjle upon square mile of structurei 
stretched beneath the; dome, black 
buildings often of immense size, vary- 
ing in shape, but all of square, rec- 
tangular proportions. Between them 
moved countless frog-horde's, swirling 
throngs in streets and squares, and over 
the roofs darted thick swarms of fly- 
ing-boats. And at the city's center, in 
a great, circular, clear space, lay a wide, 
round, green pool — the opening of the 
water-tunnel up through which they 
had come. 

Norman pointed down toward it 
"That's your answer !"/he cried^ "The 
only entrance to this frog-city is from 
the sea, up through that water-tunnel I" 
"Good God, an amphibian city C 
Hackett was shaken, white-faced. 

The two boats were driving quickly 
over the city, through the swarming 
craft. Norman glimpsed towering 
buildings that might have been palace*, 
temples, laboratories. They slowed 



THE SECOND SATELLITE 

i 



181 



and dipped toward one block-like build- 
ing not far from the water-tunnel's 
opening. Armed frog-guards were on 
its roof, and other, boats rested there. 
The two came to rest and the two cap- 
tives were jerked out, the guards seiz- 
ing them. 

Half-dragged and half-floating they 
wtre led toward an opening in the roof 
from which a stair led downward. 
They passed down thus into the build- 
ing's interior, lit by many windows. 
Norman glimpsed long halls ending in 
barred doors, guards here and there. 
Tube-lines ran along the walls and 
somewhere machines were throbbing 
dally. They came at last to a barred 
door whose guard opened it at the 
croaking order of the frog-men who 
held the^two, and they were thrust in- 
side, as the door clanged. They turned, 
ind exclaimed in amazement. The 
room held fully a half-hundred men ! 

They were men such as the two fliers 
had never seen before, like humans ex- 
cept that their skins were a light gTeen 
instead of the normal white and pink. 
They were dressed in dark short tunics, 
and kept talking to each other in a 
tongue quite unintelligible to Norman 
and Hackett. They came closer, flock- 
ing curiously around the two men, with 
■ babel of voices quite meaningless to 
the two. Then one of the men uttered 
an exclamation, and all turned. 

( 

THE barred door had swung open 
and a half-dozen frog-guards en- 
tered, followed by two frog-men carry- 
ing a square little mechanism from 
which tubing led back oat through the 
door. 

"Norman — these men — " Hackett was 
whispering rapidly. "If there are men 
in this world, too, it may be that — " 

"Quiet, Hackett — look at what 
they're doing." 

The-' two frog-men had set their 
eechanism in place and then croaked 
wt a brief word or order. Slowly, re- 
luctantly, one of the green men moved 
toward them. Quickly they removed 
l metal disk fastened to his arm, expos- 



ing a small orifice like an unhealed 
wound. Onto this they fastened a 
suckerlike object from which a trans- 
parent tube led back through the mech- 
anism The machine hummed and at 
once a red stream pulsed through the 
tube and back through the mechanism. 
The man to whom it was attached was 
growing rapidly pale I 

Norman, sick with horror, clutched 
his companion. "Hackett — these frog- 
men are sucking his blood from himl" 

"Good God I And look — they're do- 
ing it with another I" 

"All of these men — kept prisoners to 
furnish them with blood. It must be 
the damned creatures' food I YAnd we 
here with the others — " / 

A common horror shook the two. It 
did not seem to affect the green men 
in the room, though, who advanced to 
the mechanism one by one with a re- 
luctant air as of cows unwilling to be 
milked. Each was attached to the 
mechanism by the sucking disk on his 
arm, and out of each the blood poured 
through the tube. The metal disk was 
replaced on his arm then and he went 
back to the others. Norman saw that 
the frog-men took only from each an 
amount of blood that they could lose 
and yet live, since, though each came 
back pale and weak from the mechan- 
ism, they were able to walk. 

"It must be their food — human 
blood I" Norman repeated. "They may 
have thousands on thousands of hu- 
mans penned up like this, like so many 
herds of cows, and perhaps they live 
entirely on the life-blood they milk 
from them. Human cows — God!" 

"Norman — look — they're calling to 
us I" 

THE two stiffened. All the others 
in the room had taken their turn 
at the blood-sucking, mechanism and 
now the frog-men croaked their order 
to the two fliers. They bad forgotten 
their own predicament in the horror of 
the scene, but now it became real to 
them. They backed against the room's 
wall, quivering, dangerous. 



182 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



The frog-guards came forward to 
drag them to the machine. A webbed 
paw was outstretched but Hackett with 
-a wild blow drove the frog-man back 
and downward. The frog - guards 
leaped, and Norman an<| Hackett struck 
them back with all the greater strength 
the lesser gravitation gave them. The 
room was in an uproar, the green men 
shouting hoarsely and seeming on the 
point of rushing to their aid. 

But the menacing foice-pistols of the 
other frog-guards held back the shout- 
ing men and in moments the two fliers 
were overpowered by sheer weight of 
frog-bodies. Norman felt himself 
dragged to the machine. 

Pain needled his upper arm as an 
incision was made. He felt the suck- 
ing-disk attached; then the machine 
hummed, and a sickening nausea swept 
him as .the blood drained from his 
body.' Held tightly by the guards he 
went dizzy, weak, but at last felt the 
sucker removed and a metal disk fas- 
tened over the incision. He was jerked 
aside and Hackett, his face deathly 
white, was dragged into his place. In 
a moment some ©f the tatter's blood 
had been pumped from him also. 

The machine was withdrawn, Nor- 
man, and Hackett were released, and 
the frog-men, with their black force- 
pistols watchfully raised, withdrew, 
the door clanging. The room settled 
back to quietness, the green men 
stretching in lassitude on ^ the metal 
bunks around it. The two fliers 
crouched down near the door, shud- 
dering nausea and weakness still hold- 
ing them. 

Norman found ■ that Hackett wis 
laughing weakly. "To think that 
twenty-four hours ago I was in New 
York," he half-laughed, half-sobbed. 
"On Earth— Earth— " 

The other gripped his arm. "It's hor- 
rible, Hackett, I know. But it isn't' in- 
stant death, and we've still a chance 
to escape. Hell, can damn frog-men 
keep us here? Where's your nerve, 
man?" 

A voice beside them made them turn 



in amazement. "You are men from 
Earth?" it asked, in queerly accented 
English. "From Earth?" 

ASTONISHMENT held them as 
they saw who spoke. It was one 
of the green men in the room, who had 
settled down by their side. A tall fig- 
ure, with superb muscles and frank, 
clean countenance, his dark eyes afire 
with eagerness. 

"English?" Norman exclaimed. "Yon 
know English — you understand me ?" 

The other showed his teeth in a 
smile. "I know, yes. I am Sarja, and 
I learned to speak it from Fallas, in my 
city, before the Ralas caught me." 

"Fallas — " Norman repeated, puz- 
zled; then suddenly he flamed. "By 
God, he means Fellows I" t 

"Fallas, yes," said the other. "From 
the sky he fell into our city in a 
strange flying-boat that was smashed. 
He was hurt but we cared for him, and 
he taught me his speech, which I heard 
you talking now." 

^Tten~-FelIowB is in your city now?" 
asked' Hackett eagerly. "Where is 
that?" <- 

"Across this sea — back in the hills,'' 
the other waved. "It is far from the 
sea but I was rash one day and came 
too near the water in my flying-boat 
The Ralas were out raiding and they 
saw me, caught me, and brought me 
here. No escape now, until I die." 

"The Ralas — you mean those frog- 
men?" Norman asked. / 

Sarja nodded. "Of course. They 
are the tyrants and oppressors of this 
world. Our little world is but a tenth 
or less the size of your great Earth 
which it circles, bat it has its lands 
and rivers, and this one great fresh- 
water sea into which the latter empty. 
In this sea long ago developed the 
Ralas, the great frog-men who acquired 
such intelligence and arts that they be- 
came lords of this worm. _ 

"Through the centuries, while on the 
land our races of green men have been 
struggling upward, the Ralas have op- 
pressed them. Long ago the Ralas left 



THE SECOND SATELLITE 



183 



(11 their other cities to build this one 
great amphibian pity at the sea's cen- 
ter. Entrance to it is only by the 
water-tunnel from without, and being 
frog-people entrance thus is easy for 
them since they can move for many 
minutes under water, though they 
drown like any other breathing animal 
if kept under too long. Humans dare 
not try to enter it thus by the water- 
tunnel, since, before they could find it 
and make their way up through it, they 
would have drowned. 

«f[0 the Ralas have ruled from this 

lj impregnable amphibian city. Its 
colossal metal dome is invulnerable to 
ordinary attack, and though solid and 
without openings it is always as light 
beneath the dome here, as outside, since 
the Ralas' scientists contrived light- 
condensers and conductors that catch 
light outside and bring it in to release 
inside. So when it is day outside the 
sunlight is as bright here, and when 
night comes the Earthlight shines here 
the same as without. 

"From this city their raiding parties 
have gone out endlessly to swoop down 
on the cities of us gTeen men. Since 
we learned to make flying-boats like 
theirs, with molecular-motors, and to 
make the guns like theirs that fire 
•hells filled with annihilating force, we 
have resisted, them stoutly but their 
raids have not ceased. And always 
they have brought their prisoners back 
in to this, their city. 

"Tens of thousands of '.green men 
they have prisoned here like us, for the 
sole purpose of supplying them, with 
blood. For the Ralas live on thisfblood 
alone, changing it chemically to fit 
their own bodies and then taking it 
into their bodies. It eliminates all ne- 
cessity for food here for them. Every 
few days they drain blood from us, and 
since we are well fed and cared for to 
keep us good blood-producers, we will 
be here for a long time before we die." 

"But haven't you made any attempt 
to get out of here— to escape?" Nor- 
nam asked. , * \ 



Sarja smiled. "Who could escape 
the city of the Ralas? In all recorded 
history it has never been done, for even 
if by some miracle you g^t a flying- 
boat, the opening of the water-tunnel 
that leads outward is guarded always." 

"Guards or no guards, we're going to 
try it and not sit here to furnish biood 
for the Ralas,'* Norman declared. "Are 
you willing to help, to try to get to 
Fellows and your city?" 

The green man considered. "It is 
hopeless," he said, "but as well to die 
beneath the force-shells of the Ralas as 
live out a lifetime here, .yes, I will 
help, though I cannot see Mow you ex- 
pect to escape even from this room." 

"I think we can manage that," Nor- 
man told him. "But first — not a word 
to these others. We can't hope to es- 
cape with them all, and there is nd^ 
knowing what one might not betray us 
to the frog-men." I 

He went on then to outline to the 
other two the idea that had come to 
him. Both exclaimed at the simple- 
ness of the idea, though Sarja remained 
somewhat doubtful. While Hackett 
slept, weak still from his loss of blood, 
Norman had the green man scratch on 
the metal floor as well as possible a 
crude map of the satellite's surface, 
and found that the city, where Fellows 
was, seemed some hundreds of miles 
back from the sea. 

HILE they talked, the sunlight, 
apparently sourceless, that 
came through the heavily barred win- 
dows of the room faded rapidly, anjd\ 
dusk settled over the great amphibia^ 
city beneath the giant dome, kept from 
total darkness by a silvery pervading 
light that Norman reflected must be 
the light from Earth's* great sphere. 
With the dusk's coming the activities 
in the frog-city lessened greatly. 

With dusk, too, frog-guards entered 
the room bearing long metal troughs 
filled with a red jellylike substance, 
that they placed on racks along the 
wall. As the guards withdrew the men 
in the room rushed toward the troughs. 



W 



184 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



elbowing each other aside and striking 
each other tt scoop np and eat as much 
of the red jelly aa possible. It was for 
all the world like the feeding of farm- 
animals, and Hackett and Norman so 
sickened at .the sight that they had no 
heart to try the food. Sarja, though, 
had no such scruples and seemed to 
make a hearty meal at one of the 
troughs. 

After the meal the green men Bought 
the bunks and soon were stretched in 
sonorous slumber. It was, Norman re- 
flected, exactly the existence of do- 
mesticated animals — to ■ eat and sleep 
and give food to their masters. Ji. 
deeper horror of the frog-men shook 
him, and a deeper determination to es- 
cape them. He waited until all in the 
room were sleeping before beckoning 
to Sarja and Hackett. 

"Quiet now," he whispered to them. 
"If these others wake they'll make such 
a clamor we won't have a chance in the 
world. Ready, Sarja?" 

The green man nodded. "Yes, though 
I still think such a thing's impossible." 

"Probably is," Norman admitted. 
"But it's the one chance we've got, the 
immensely greater strengrn of our 
Earth-muscle that the frog-men must 
have forgotten vfhen they put us in 
here." 

They moved silently to the room's 
great barred door, outside which a 
frog-guard paced. They waited 'until 
he had passed the door and on down 
the hall, then Norman and Hackett and 
Sarja grasped together one of the 
door's vertical bars. It was an inch and 
a half in thickness, of solid metal, and 
it seemed ridiculous that any men 
could bent it by the sheer strength of 
their muscles. 

Norman, though, was relying on the 
fact that on the. second satellite, with 
its - far lesser gravitational influence, 
their Earth-muscles gave them, enor- 
mouf strength^ He grasped the bar, 
Hackett and Sarja gripping it below 
him, and then at a whispered word they 
pulled with all their force. The bar 
resisted and again, 4-ith sweat starting 



on their foreheads, they pulled. It gart 
a little. 

THEY shrank back from jt as the 
guard returned, moving put. 
Then grasping the bar again they bent 
all their force once more upon it. Each 
effort saw it bending more, the open- 
ing in the door's bars widening. They 
gave a final great wrench and the bent 
bar squealed a little. They shrank back, 
appalled, but the guard had not heard 
or noticed. He moved past it on hii 
return along the hall, and no sooner 
was past 1 it than Norman squeezed 
through the opening and leaped silent- 
ly for the great frog-man's back. 

It went down with a wild flurry of 
waving webbed paws and croaking 
cries, stilled almost instantly by Nor- 
man's terrific blows. There was silence 
then as Hackett and Sarja squeezed out 
after him, the momentary clamor of the 
battle having aroused no one. 

The three leaped together toward the 
stairs. In two great floating leaps they 
were on the floor above, Hackett and 
Norman dragging Sarja between them. 
They were not seen, were sailing in 
giant steps up another stair, hopes ru- 
ing high. The last stair — the roof- 
opening above ; and then from beneath 
a great croaking cry swelled instantly 
into chorus of alarmed shouts. 

"They've found the door — the 
guard I" panted Hackett. 

They were bursting out onto the 
roof. Frog-guards were on it who came 
in a hopping rush toward them, force- 
pistols raised. But a giant leap took 
Hackett among them, to amaze them 
for a moment with great flailing blows. 
Sarja had leaped for the nearest flying- 
boat resting on the roof, and was call- 
ing in a frantic voice to Norman and 
Hackett. Norman was turning toward 
Hackett, the center of a wild combat, 
but the latter emerged from it for a 
brief second to motion him frantically 
back. 

"No use, Norman — get away — get 
away I" he cried hoarsely, f renziedly. 
"Hackett— for God's sake— I" Nor- 



THE SECOND SATELLITE 



185 



nan half-leaped to the other, but an 
arm caught him, pulled him desperate- 
ly onto the* "boat's surface. It was 
Sarja, the long craft flying over the 
roof beneath his controL 

"They cornel" he panted. "Too late 
now — " Frogmen were pouring up 
onto the roof from below. Sarja Bent 
the craft rocketing upward, as Hackett 
gestured them away for a last frantic 
time before going down beneath the 
frog-men's onslaught. 

*'i 

THE roof and the combat on it 
dropped back and beneath them 
like a atone as their craft ripped across 
the silvery dusk over the mighty frog- 
city. They were shooting toward the 
city's center, toward the green pool 
that was the entrance to the water-tun- 
nel, while behind and beneath an in- 
creasing clamor of alarm spread swift- 
ly. Norman raged futilely. 

"Hackett— Hackett 1 We can't leave 
him-i-" 

"Too late I" Sarja cried. "We cannot 
help him but only be captured again. 
We escape now and come back — come 
back—" 

The truth of it pierced Norman's 
brain even in the wild moment. 
Hackett had fought and held back the 
frog-guards only that they might 
escape. He shouted suddenly. 

"Sarja — the water-tunnell" A half- 
dozen boats with frog-guards on them 
were rising round it in answer to the 
alarm! 4 

The force- gun I" cried the green 
nan. "Beside you — I" 

Norman whirled, glimpsed the long 
tnbe on its swivel beside him, trained 
it on the boats rising ahead as 'they 
rocketed nearer. He fumbled frantical- 
ly at a catch at the gun's rear, then felt 
1 stream of shells Bicking out of it. 
Two of the boats ahead vanished as the 
ihells released their annihilating force, 
mother sagged and fell. From the re- 
maining three invisible force-shells 
Sicked around them, but in an instant 
Sarja had whirled the boat through 
them and down into the water-tunnel I 



Norman clung desperately to his Beat 
as the boat flashed down through the 
waters, and then, as Sarja sent it flying 
out through the great tunnel's waters, 
glimpsed, close behind, the beams of 
the three Rata boats as they pursued 
^hem through the tunnel, overtaking 
them. Could the force-shells be fired 
under water? Norman did not know, 
but desperately he swung the force- 
gun back as they rushed through the 
waters, and pressed the catch. An in- 
stant later beams and boats behind 
them in the tunnel vanished. 

His lungs, were afire ; it seemed that 
he must open them to Jfche strangling 
water. The boat was ripping the waters 
at such tremendous speed that he felt 
himself being torn from his hold on it. 
Pain seemed poured like molten metal 
through his chest — he could hold out 
no longer; and then the boat stabbed 
up from the waters into clear air I I 

NORMAN panted, sobbed. Behind 
them rose the colossal metal dome 
of the frog-city, gleaming dully in the 
silvery light that flooded the far- 
stretching seas. That light poured 
down from a stupendous silver cres- 
cent in the night skies. Norman saw 
dully the dark outlines on it before he 
remembered. Earth I He laughed a 
little hysterically. Sarja was driving 
the flying-boat out over the sea and 
away from the frog-city at enormous 
speed. At last he glanced back. Far 
behind them lay the great dome and up 
around it gleaming lights were pour- 
ing, lights of pursuing Rala boats. 

"We escape," Sarja cried, "the city 
of the Ralas, frcgn which none ever be- 
fore escaped I" 

Remembrance smote Norman. "Hack- 
ett I Held off thosetfrog-men so we 
could get away — we'll come back for 
him, by God I" 

"We come back I" said Sarja. "We 
come back with all the green men of 
this world to the Ralas' city, -yes I I 
know what Pallas has planned." 

"Can you find your way to him — to 
your city?" Norman asked. 



186 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



Sarja nodded, looking upward. "Be- 
fore the next sun has come and gone 
we em reach it." 

The 1 boat flew onward, and the great 
dome and the searching lights around 
it dropped beneath the horizon. Nor- 
man felt the warm wind drying his 
drenched garments as they rushed on- 
ward.. Crouched on the boat he gazed 
up toward the silver crescent of Earth 
sinking toward the horizon ahead. That 
meant, he told himself, that the satel- 
lite turned slowly on its axis as it 
whirled around Earth. It came to him 
that its night and day periods must be 
highly irregular. 

When the sun climbed from the wa- 
ters behind them they were flying still 
over a boundless waste of waters, but 
Boon they sighted on the horizon ahead 
the thin green line of land. Sarja 
slowed as they reached it, took his 
beatings, knd sent the craft flying on- 
ward. 

They passed over a gre< coastal 
plain and then over low hills joined in 
long chains and mantled by dense 
and mighty jungles, towering green 
growths of unfamiliar appearance to 
Norman. He thought he glimpsed, 
more than*#nce, hunt beastlike forms 
moving in them. rWniid see twice in 
the jungles great clearings where were 
fair-sized cities of bright-green build- 
ings, a metal tower rising from each. 
But when he pointed to them Sarja 
shook his head. 

AT last, as they passed over another 
range of hills and came into 
sight of a third green city with its 
looming tower, the other pointed, his 
face alight. 
"My city," he said. "Fallas there." 
Fellows I Norman's heart beat faster. 
They shot closer and lower and he 
saw that the buildings were obviously 
green to lend them a certain protective 
coloration similar to that of the green 
jungles around them. The tower with 
its surmounting cage puzzled him, 
though, but before he could ask Sarja 
concerning it his answer came in a dif- 



ferent way. A long melol tube poked 
slowly out of the cage on the tower's 
top and sent a hail of force-shells flick- 
ing around them 

"They're firing on us I" Norman 
cried. "This can't be your city I" 

"They see our black boat 1" Sarja ex- 
claimed. "They think we're Rala raid- 
ers and unless we let them know they'll 
shoot us out of the air I Stand up- 
wave to them — I" 

Both Norman and Sarja sprang to 
their feet and waved wildly to thos£in 
the tower-cage, their flying-boat drift- 
ing slowly forward. Instantly the 
, force-shells ceased to hail toward them, 
and as they moved nearer a sirenlike 
signal broke from the cage. At once 
scores of flying-boats like their own, 
but glittering metal instead of black, 
shot up from the city where they had 
lain until now, and surrounded them. 

As Sarja called in his own tongue to 
them the green men on the surround- 
ing boats broke into resounding cries. 
They shot down toward the city, Nor- 
man gazing tensely. Great crowds of 
green men in their dark tunics had 
swarmed out into its streets with the 
passing of the alarm, and their craft 
and the others came to rest in an open 
square that was the juncture of several 
streets. 

The green meri that crowded ex- 
citedly about Norman and Sarja gave 
way to a half-dozen hurrying into the 
square from the greatest of the build- 
ings facing on it. All but one were 
green men like the others. But that 
one — the laughing-eyed tanned face — 
the worn brown clothing, the curious 
huge steps with which he came — Nor- 
man's heart leapt. 

"Fellows r 

"Great God — Norman I" The other's 
face was thunderstruck. "Norman- 
how by all ghat's holy did you get 
here?" 

NORMAN, mind and body strained 
to the breaking point, was inco- 
herent. "We guessed how you'd gone 
—the second satellite, Fellows— Hack- 



THE SECOND SATELLITE 

> 



187 



ett and I came after yon — taken to that 
frog-city—" 

As Norman choked the tale. Fellows' 
face was a study. And when it was 
finished he Bwallowed, and gripped 
Norman's hand viselike. 

"And you and Hackett figured it out 
and came after me— took that risk? 
Crazy, both of you. Crazy — " 

"Fellows, Hackett's still there, if he's 
alive I In the Rala city I" 

Fellows' voice was grim, quick. 
"We'll have him out, .Norman, if he 
still lives. And living or dead, the 
Ralas will pay soon for this and for all 
they've done upon this world in ages. 
Their time nears — yes." 1 

He led Norman, excited throngs of 
the green men about them, into the 
great building from which he had em- 
erged. There were big rooms inside, 
workshops and laboratories that Nor- 
man but vaguely glimpsed in passing. 
The room to which the other led him 
was one with a long metal couch. Nor- 
man stretched protestingly upon it at 
the other's bidding, drifted off almost 
at once into sleep. 

He woke to find the sunlight that had 
filled the roc-m gone and replaced by 
the silvery Earth-light. From the win- 
dow he sawHhat the silver-lit city out- 
side now held tremendous activity, im- 
mense hordes of green men surging 
through it with masses of weapons and 
equipment, flying-boats pouring down 
out of the night from all directions. He 
turned as the door of the room clicked 
open behind him. It was his old friend 
Fellows. 

"I thought you'd be awake by now, 
Norman. Feeling fit?" 

"As though I'd slept a week," Nor- 
man said, and the other laughed his old 
care-free laugh. 

"You almost have, at that. Two days 
and nights you've slept, but it all adds 
up to hardly more than a dozen hours." 

"This world I" Norman's voice held 
all his incredulity. "To think that we 
should be on it — a second satellite of 
Earth's — it, seems almost beyond be- 
lief." 



**OOMETIMES it seems so to me, 
too," Fellows said thoughtfully. 
"But it's not a bad world— not the hu- 
man part of it, at least. When this 
satellite's atmosphere caught me and 
pitchforked me down among these 
green men, smashing the plane and al- 
most myself, they took care of me. 
You say three others vanished as I did? 
I never heard of them here ; they must 
have crashed into the sea or jungles. 
Of course, I'd have got backs to Earth 
on one of these flying-boats if I'd been 
able, but their molecular power wqn't 
take then! far from this world's sur- 
face, so I couldn't. V 

"As it was, the green men cared for 
me, and when I found how those frog- 
men have dominated this world for 
ages, how that city of the Ralas has 
spread endless terror among the hu- 
mans here, I resolved to smash those 
monsters whatever I did. I taught, some 
of the green men like Sarja my own 
speech, later learning theirs, and in the 
weeks I've been here I've been working 
out a way to smash the Ralas. 

"You know that amphibian city is al- 
most impregnable because humans can 
hardly live long enough under the 
water to get into it, let alone fight un- 
der water as the frog-men can. To meet 
them on even terms the green men 
needed diving-helmets with an oxygen 
supply. They'd never heard of such an 
idea, too afraid of the sea ever to ex- 
periment in it, but I convinced them 
and they've made enough helmets for 
all their forces. In them they can meet 
the Ralas under water on equal terms. 

"And there's a chance we can destroy 
that whole Rala city with their help. 
It's built on a giant pedestal of rock 
rising from the sea's floor, as you saw, 
and I've had some f>f the green men 
make huge force-shells or force-bombs 
that ought to be powerful enough to 
split that pedestal beneath the city. If 
we can get a chance to place those 
bombs it may smash the frog-men for- 
ever on this world. But one thing is 
sure: we're going to get Hackett out if 
he still lives I" 



188 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



"Then you're going to attack the 
Rala city now?" Normin cried. 

FellowB nodded grimly. "While you 
have slept all the forces of the green 
men on this world have been gathering. 
Your coming has only precipitated our 
plans, Norman — the whole soul of the 
green races has. been set upon this at- 
tack for weeks I" 

NORMAN, half bewildered at the 
swiftness with which events 
rushed upon him, found himself strid- 
ing with Fellows in great steps out 
through the building into the great 
square. It was shadowed now by mass 
on mass of flying-boats, crowded with 
green men, that -hung over it and over 
the streets. One boat, Sarja at its con- 
trols, waited on the ground and as they 
entered and buckled themselves into 
the seats the craft drove up to hang 
with the others. 

A shattering cheer greeted them. 
Norman iw that in the silvery light of 
Earth's great crescent there stretched 
over the city and surrounding jungle 
now a veritable plain of flying-boats. 
On each were green men and each bris- 
tled with force-guns, and had as many 
great goggled helmets fastened to it as 
It had occupants. He glimpsed larger 
boats loaded with huge metal cylinders 
— the force-bombs Ffftows had men- 
tioned. 

Fellows rose and spoke briefly in a 
clear voice to the assembled green men 
on their craft, and another great shotlt 
roared from them, and from those who 
watched in the city below. Then as he 
spoke a word, Sarja sent their craft fly- 
ing out over the city, and the great 
mass of boats, fully a thousand in num- 
ber, were Startling in a compact column 
after them. 

Fellows leaned to Norman as the 
great column of purring craft shot on 
over the silver-lit jungles. "We'll 
make straight for the Rala city and try 
getting into it before they understand 
what's happening." 

"Won't they have guards out ?" 

"Probably, but we can beat them back 



into the city before their whole forces 
can come out on us. That's the only 
way in which we can get inside and 
reach Hackett. And while we're at- 
tacking the force-bombs can be placed, 
though I don't rely too much on them." 

"If the attack only succeeds in get- 
ting us inside," Norman said, grim- 
lipped, "we'll have a chance — " 

"It's on the knees of the gods. These 
green men are doing an unprecedented 
thing in attacking the Ralas, the mas- 
ters of this world, remember. But 
they've got ages of oppression to 
avenge; they'll fight." 

The fleet flew on, hills and rivers a 
silver-lit panorama unreeling beneath 
them. Earth's crescent sank behind 
them, and by the time they flashed out 
over the great fresh-water sea, the sun 
was rising like a flaming eye from be- 
hind it. Land sank from sight behind 
and the green men were silent, tense, 
as they saw stretching beneath only 
the gray waters that for ag4b had been 
the base of the dread frog-men. But 
still the fleet's column raced on. 

AT last the column slowed. Far 
ahead the merest bulge broke the 
level line where sky and waters met 
The amphibian city of the Ralas I At 
Fellows' order the flying-boats sank 
downward until they moved just above 
the waters. Another order made the 
green hosts don the' grotesque helmets. 
Norman found that while cumbersome 
their oxygen supply was unfailing. 
They shot on again at highest speed, 
but as the gigantic black dome of the 
frog-city grew in their vision there 
darted up from around it suddenly a 
far-flung swarm of black spots. 
"Rala boats I" 

The muffled exclamation was Fel- 
lows'. There needed now no order on 
his part, though. Like hawks, leaping 
for prey, the fleet of the green men 
sprang through the air. Norman, 
clutching the force-gun between his 
knees, had time only to see that the 
Rala craft were a few hundred in num- 
ber and fhat, contemptuous of the 



THE SECOND SATELLITE 



189 



greater odds that favored these humans 
they had^so long oppressed, they were 
flying straight to meet them. Then the 
two fleets met— and were spinning side 
by side above the Waters. 

Norman saw the thing only as a wild 
whirl o f RalaJ boats toward and beside 
them, great green frog-men crowding 
the craft, their force-guns- hailing 
shells. Automatically, with the old 
air-fighting instinct, his fingers had 
pressed the catch of the gun between 
his knees and as its shells flicked to- 
ward the rushing boats he saw areas of 
nothingness opening suddenly in their 
mass, shells striking and exploding in 
annihilating invisibility there and in 
their own fleet. 

The two fleets mingled and merged 
momentarily, the battle becoming a 
thing of madness, a huge whirl of black 
and glittering flying-boats together, 
striking shells exploding nothingness 
about them. The Ralas were fighting 
like demons. 

The merged, terrific combat lasted 
but moments; could last but moments. 
Norman, his gun's magazine empty, 
seemed to see the mass of struggling 
ships splittering, diverging; then saw 
that the black craft were dropping, 
plummeting downward toward the 
waves! The Ralas, stunned by that 
minute of terrific combat, were fleeing. 
Muffled cries and cheers came from 
about him as the glittering flying-boats 
of the green men shot after them. They 
crashed down into the waters and 
curved deeply into their green depths, 
toward the gigantic dome. 

AHEAD the Rala boats were in 
flight toward their city, and now 
their pursuers were like sharks strik- 
ing after them. There in the depths 
the force-guns of black and glittering 
boats alike were spitting, and giant 
waves and underwater convulsions 
rocked pursued and pursuers as the ex- 
ploding shells annihilated boats and 
water about them. The tunnel I Its 
round opening yawned in the looming 
wail ahead, and Norman saw the Rala 



craft, reduced to scores in number, 
hurtling into it, to rouse all the forces 
of the great amphibian city. Their own 
boats were flashing into the opening 
after them. He glimpsed as he glanced 
back for a moment the larger craft with 
the great force-bombs veering aside be- 
hind them. 

It was nightmare in the water-tun- 
nel. Flashing beams of the craft ahead 
and waters that rocked and smashed 
around them as in flight the Ralas still 
rained back force-shells toward them 
in a chaos of action. Once the frog- 
men turned to hold them back in the 
tunnel, but by sheer weight the rush- 
ing ships of the green ^men crashed 
them onward. Boats wei* going into 
nothingness all around them. A part 
of Norman's brain wondered calmly 
why they survived even while another 
part kept his gun again working, with 
refilled magazine. Fellows and Sarja 
were grotesque shapes beside him. Ab- 
ruptly the tunnel curved upward and 
as they flashed up after the remaining 
Rala crafftfieir boats ripped up into' 
clear air I They were beneath the giant 
_dome I 

The frog-men chased inward spread 
out in all directions over their mighty, 
swarming city, and across it a terrific 
clamor of alarm ran instantly as the 
green men emerged after them I Nor- 
man saw flying-boats beginning to rise 
across all the city and realized that mo- 
ments would see all the immense force 
of the Ralas, the thousands of craft 
they could muster, pouring upon them. 
He pointed out over the city to a block- 
like building; and shouted madly 
through his helmet to Fellows and 
Sarja: 

"Hackettl" 

But already Sarja had sent their 
craft whirling across the city toward 
the structure, half thtir fleet behind 
it, with part still emerging from the 
water-tunnel. Rala boats rose before 
them, but nothing could stop them 
now, their force-shells raining ahead 
to clear a path for their meteor-flight. 
They shot down toward the block- 



190 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



structure, and, Norman, half-crazed by 
now, saw that to descend and enter was 
euicide in the face of the frog-forces 
rising now over all the city. He cried 
to Fellows, and with two of the guns 
as they swooped lower they sprayed 
force-shells along the building's side. 

THE shells struck and whiffed away 
the whole side, exposing the level 
on the building's interior. Out from it 
'rushed swarms of crazed green men, 
sweeping aside the frog-men guards, 
while far over the city the invading 
craft were loosing shells on the block- 
like buildings that held the prisoners, 
tens of thousands of them swarming 
forth. In the throng below as they 
raced madly forth Norman saw one, 
and shouted wildly. The one brown 
garbed figure looked up, saw their boat 
swooping lower, and leaped for it in a 
tremendous forty-foot spring that 
brought his fingers to its edge. Nor- 
man pulled him frenziedly up. 

"Norman I" he babbled. "In God's 
name — Fellow^ — I" 

'"That helmet, Hackett I" Fellows 
flungj'at him. "My God, look*at those 
prisoners — Norman I" 

The' .countless t)&isands of; green ' 
men released from the buildings whose 
walls had vanished under the shells of 
the invaders had poured forth to make 
the amphibian city a chaos of madness. 
Oblivious to all else they were throw- 
ing themselves upon the city's crowd- 
ing frog-men in a battle whose ferocity 
was beyond belief, disregarding all else 
in this supreme chance to wreak ven- 
geance on the monstrous beings who 
had fed upon their blood. In the in- 
credible insanity of that raging fury 
the craft of the green men hanging 
over the city were all but forgotten. 

Suddenly the city and the mighty 
dome over it quivered violently, and 
then (gain. There came from beneath 
a dull, vast, grinding roar. 

"The gTeat force-bombs!" Fellows 
screamed "They've set them off — the 
city's sinking— out of here, for the love 
of God I" 



The boat whirled beneath Sarja'i 
hands toward , the pool of the water- 
tunnel, all their fleet rushing with 
them. The grinding roar was louder, 
terrible; dome and city were shaking 
violently now; but in. the insensate 
fury of their struggle! the frog-men and 
their released prisoners were hardly 
aware of it. The whole great dome 
seemed sinking upon them and the city 
falling beneath it as Sarja's craft 
ripped down into the tunnel's waters, 
and then out, at awful speed, as the 
great tunnel's walls swayed and sank 
around them I They shot out into the 
green depths from it to hear a dull, 
colossal crashing through the waters 
from behind as the great pedestal of 
rock on which the city had stood, shat- 
tered by the huge force-bombs, col- 
lapsed.- And as their boats flashed up 
into the open air they saw that the 
huge dome of the city of the Ralas was 
gone. 

Beneath them was only a titanic 
whirlpool of foaming waters in which 
only the curved top of the settling 
dome was visible for a moment 'as it 
sank slowly and ponderously down- 
ward, with a roar as of the roar of fall- 
ing worlds. Buckling, collapsing, sink- 
ing, it vanished in the foam-wild sea 
with all the frog-men who for ages had 
ruled the second satellite, and with all 
those prisoners who had at the last 
dragged them down with them to 
death I Ripping off their helmets, with 
all the green men shouting craxily 
about them, Norman and Fellows and 
Hackett stared down at the colossal 
maelstrom in the waters that was the 
tomb of the masters of a world. 

Then the depression's sides col- 
lapsed, the waters rushing together . . . 
and beneath them was but troubled, 
tossing sea. 

EARTH'S great gray ball was over- 
head again and the sun was sink- 
ing again to the horizon when the three 
soared upward in the long, gleaming 
plane, its motor roaring. Norman, with 
Hackett and Fellows crowding the 



THE SECOND SATELLITE 



191 



narrow cabin beside him, waved with 
them through, .its windows. For all 
around them were rising the, flying- 
boats of the green men. 

They were waving wildly, shouting 
their farewells, Sarja's tall figure erect 
at the prow of one. Insistent they had 
been that the three should stay, the 
three through whom the monstrous 
age-old tyranny of the frog-men had 
been lifted, but Earth-sickness was on 
them, and they had flown to where the 
plane lay still unharmed among the 
reeds, a hundred willing hands drag- 
ging it forth for the take-off. 

The plane soared higher, motor 
thundering, and they saw the flying- 
boats sinking back from around them. 
They caught the wave of Sarja's hand 
still from the highejt, and then that, 
too, was gone. 

Upward they flew toward the great 
gray sphere, their eyes on the dark out- 
lines of its continents and on one con- 
tinent. Higher — higher — green land 
tnd gray sea receding beneath them; 



Hackett and Fellows intent and eager 
as Norman kept the plane rising. The 
satellite lay, a greenish globe, under 
them. And as they went higher still a 
rushing sound came louder to their 
ears. 

"The edge of the satellite's atmos- 
phere?" Fellows asked, as Norman 
nodded. 

"We're almost to it — here we go I" 
As he shot the plane higher, great 
forces smote it, gray Earth and green 
satellite and yellow sun gyrating round 
it as it reeled and plunged. Then sud- 
denly it was failing Steadily, gray 
Earth and its dark continent now be- 
neath, while with a dwindling rushing 
roar its second satellite whirled away 
above them, passing and vanishing. 
Passing as though, to Norman it 
seemed, all their strange sojourn on it 
were passing; the frog-men and their 
mighty city, Sarja and their mad 
flight, the green men and the last ter- 
rific battle; all whirling away — whirl- 
ing away. 



HISTORIC EXPERIMENT I 

THE famous experiment which proves that 
the "earth do move** by letting the ob- 
■erver actually see it twisting underneath his 
feet, an experiment invented by the French 
mathematician Jean B. L. Foucaolt nearly a 
century ago, was repeated recently under un- 
anally impressive circumstances before an 
international scientific congress at Florence, 
Italy, the same city where Galileo once was 
persecuted for holding the same opinion. 

From the center of the dome of the Church 
of Santa Marie di Fiorc, Father Guide Alfani, 
director of the Astronomical Observatory, 



IOVES EARTH'S ROTATION 

suspended a 200-pound weight on a wire 150 
feet long. On the bottom of this weight was 
a tm» -projecting point which traced a line on 
a table-top sprinkled with sand, as the great 
pendulum swung slowly back and forth. At 
a given signal Father Alfani set the pen- 
dulum to swinging. While the assembled 
scientists watched it, slowly the line traced 
across the sand table-top changed direction. 

As Foucaolt proved long ago and as the 
watching scientists well knew, the table was 
being twisted underneath the pendulum by 
the rotation of the earth. 



A REVOLUTIONARY AIRPLANE 



ANEW airplane propeller haa recently 
been patented by J. Kalmanson of Brook- 
lyn, N. Y. Greater .speed and marked saving 
m fuel is claimed for the invention, which 
may be attached to any type of airplane. 

The device is in two parts, which may be 
nsed separately as front and rear propellers 
or combined into a single blade. The prin- 
ciple is that the front one acts to bring air 
to the other, giving the propeller more of a 
bald, so to speak, and greater power. This 
b accomplished by four air-Bpoons, one on 
tseh aide of each blade of the propeller. 
It is said that; the device can double the 



speed of an airplane amf raise it from the 
ground in ninety feet instyd of the 200 feet 
most airplanes now require? It is also claim- 
ed that the new propeller will prevent the 
plane from making a nose dive unless the 
pilot forces it to do so, and enable it to make 
a safe landing within a short distance. Be- 
cause of the increase in power and speed, 
the device would save a large amount of 
gasoline and oil, as well as guarding the mo- 
tor from part of the strain on it. 

Tbe device is said to be also applicable to 
ships, the same principle operating in Water 
as well as air. 




Silver Dome 

By Hart Vincent 



IN a secluded spot among the hills 
of northern New Jersey stood the 
old DcBost mansion, a rambling 
frame structure of many wings 
and gables that was well-nigh hidden 
from the road by the half-mile or more 
of second-growth 
timber which in- 
tervened. High 
on the hill it 
stood, and it was 
only by virtue of 
its altitude that an occasional glimpse 
might be obtained of weatherbeaten 
gable or partly tumbled-down chimney. 
The place was refuted to be haunted 
since the death of"qJd DeBost, some 



In bm doop-borMd kingdom of 
Phufttra roraala lb* imuiii| 
the Sttror Doom. 



192 



seven years previously, and the path 
which had once been a winding drive- 
way was now seldom trod by human 
foot. 

It was now two years since Edwin Le- 
land bought the estate for a song and 
took up his resi- 
dence in the 
gloomy old house. 
And it had then 
been vacant for 
five years since 
DeBost shot himself in the northeast 
bedroom. Leland's associates were sure 
he would repent of his bargain in a 
very short time, but he stayed ,on and 
on in the place, with no company save 



ToeroA, 
of 



SILVER DOME 



193 



that of hie man-servant, an aged hunch- 
back who was known to outsiders only 
as Thomas. 

Leland was a scientist of note before 
he buried himself in the DeBost place, 
and had been employed in the New 
York research laboratory of one of the 
large electrical manufacturers, where 
he was much admired and, not a little 
envied by his fellow workers. These 
knew almost nothing of his habits or 
of his personal affairs, and were much 
surprised when he announced one day 
that he had come into a sizable fortune 
and was leaving the organization to go 
in for private research and study. At- 
tempts to dissuade him were of no 
avail, and the purchase of the DeBost 
property followed, after which Leland 
dropped from sight for nearly two' 
years. 

THEN, on a blustery winter day, a 
strange telephone call was re- 
ceived at the laboratory where he had 
previously worked. It was from old 
Thomas, out there in the DeBost man- 
lion, and his quavering voice asked for' 
Frank Rowley, the genial young en- 
gineer whose work bad been most 
closely associated with Leland's. 

"Oh, Mr. Rowley," wailed the old 
man, when Frank responded to the call, 
"I wish you would come out here right 
away. The master has been acting very 
queerly of late, and to-day he has locked 
himself in his laboratory and will not 
answer my knocks." 

"Why don't you break in the door?" 
asked Frank, looking through the win- 
dow at the snow storm that still raged. 

"I thought of that, Mr. Rowley, but 
it is of oak and very thick. Besides, 
it is bound with steel or iron straps 
and is beyond my powers." 

"Why not call the police?" growled 
Prank. He did not relish the idea of 
a sixty or seventy-mile drive in the 
blizzard. 

"Oh — no — no — no!" Old Thomas was 
panicky at thc.suggestion. "The mas- 
ter told me he'd kill me if I ever did 
that." 



Before Frank could formulate a re- 
ply, there came a sharp gasp from the 
other end of the line, a wailing cry and 
a thud as of a falling body; then si- 
lence: AH efforts to raise Leland's 
number merely resulted in "busy" or 
"line out of order" reports. 

Frank Rowley was genuinely con- 
cerned. Though he had never been a 
close friend of Leland's, the two had 
worked on many a knotty problem to- 
gether and were in daily 'Contact dur- 
ing the nearly ten years Orat the older 
man had worked in the same labora- 
tory. \ 

"Say, Tommy," said Frank, replac- 
ing the receiver and turning to his 
friend, Arnold Thompson, who sat at 
an adjoining desk, "something has hap- 
pened out at Leland's place in Sussex 
County. Want to take a 'drive out 
there with me?" N 

"What? On a day like this? Why 
not take the train?" 

"Don't be foolish. Tommy," said 
Frank. "The place is eight miles from 
the nearest station, which is a flag stop 
out in the wilds.. And, even if you 
could find a cab| there — which you 
couldn't — there isn't a taxi driver in 
Jersey who'd take you up into ' those 
mountains on a day like this. Nol we'll 
have to drive. It'll be okay. I've -got 
chains on the rear and a heater in the 
old coupe, so it shouldn't be so bad. 
What do you say?" 

So Tommy, who usually followed 
wherever Frank «4ed, was prevailed 
upon to make the trip. He had no par- 
ticular feeling for Leland, but he 
sensed an adventure, and, in Frank's 
company, he could ask lor no more. 

FRANK was a careful driver, and 
three hours were required to 
make the sixty-mile journey. Conse- 
quently, it was late in the afternoon 
when they arrived at the old DeBost 
estate. It had stopped snowing, but 
the drifts were deep in spots, and 
Frank soon found that the car could 
not be driven through the winding 
path from the road to the house. So 



194 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



they left it hal^ buried in a drift and 
proceeded on foot. / 

It was a laborious task stney had un- 
dertaken, and, by the time they set 
foot on the dilapidated) porch, even 
Frank, husky and athletic as was his 
build, was puffing and snorting from 
his exertions. Little Tommy, who 
tipped the scales at less than a hundred 
and twenty, could hardly speak. They 
both were wet to the waist and in none 
too good humor. 

"Holy smoke I" gasped Tommy, 
stamping the clinging snow from his 
sodden trouser jegs and shoes, "if it 
snows any more, how in Sam Hill are 
we going to get out of this place?" 

"Rotten trip I let you in for. 
Tommy," growled Frank, "and I hope 
Leland's worth it. But, darn it all, I 
just had to come." 

"It's all right with me, Frank. And 
maybe it'll be worth it yet. Look — the 
front door's open." 

HE pointed to the huge oaken door 
and Frank saw that it-was ajar. 
The snow on the porch was not deep 
and they saw that footprints le<f from 
the open door to a corner of the porch. 
At that point i the sno)£on the railing 
was disturbed, as if a hurrying man 
had clung to it a moment before jump- 
ing over and into the drifts below. 
But the tracks led no further, for tile 
drifting snow had covered all except- 
ing a hollow where some body had 
landed. 

"Thomas!" exclaimed Frank. "And 
he was in a hustle, by the looks of the 
tracks. Bet he was frightened while 
at the telephone and beat it." 

They entered the house and closed 
the door behind them. It was growing 
quite dark and Frank searched for the 
light switch. This was near the door, 
and, at pressure on the upper button, 
the spacious old hall with its open - 
staircase was revealed dimly by the 
single remaining bulb in a cluster set 
in the center of the high ceiling. The 
hall was unfurnished, excepting for a 
telephone table and chair, the chair 



having fallen to the floor and the re- 
ceiver of the telephone dangling from 
the edge of the table by its cord. 

"You must have heard the chair fall," 
commented Tommy, "and it sure doc* 
look as if Thomas left in a hurry. 
Wonder what it was that frightened 
him?" 

The house was eerily silent and the 
words echoed awesomely through the 
adjoining rooms which connected with 
the hall through large open doorways. 

"Spooky place, isn't it?" returned 
Frank. 

AND then they were both startled 
into immobility by a rumble that 
seemed to shake the foundations of the 
house. Heavier and heavier became 
this vibration, as if some large machine 
was coming up to speed. Louder and 
louder grew the rumble until it seemed 
that the rickety old house must be 
shaken down about their ears.' Then 
there came a whistling scream from 
the depths of the earth — from far un- 
derground it ^seemed to be — and this 
mounted in pitch until their ear-drums 
tingled. Then abruptly the sounds 
ceased, the vibration stopped, and once 
more there was the eery silence. 

Rather white-faced, Tommy gazed at 
Frank. ' 

"No wonder old Thomas beat it I** he\ 
said. "What, on earth do you suppose 
that is?" ) 

"Search me," replied Frank. "But 
whatever it is, I'll bet it has something 
to do with Leland's strange actions. 
And we're going to find out." 

He had with him the large flashlamp 
from the car, and, by its light, the two 
made their way from room to room 
searching for the iron-bound door men- 
tioned by Thomas. 

They found all rooms on the first 
and second floors dusty and unused 
with the exception of two bedrooms, 
the kitchen and pantry, and the library. 
It was a gloomy and spooky old house. 
Floor boards creaked startlingly. and 
unexpectedly and the sound of their 
footsteps echoed dismally. 



SILVER DOME 



195 



"Where in time is that laboratory of 
Leland's?" exclaimed Frank, his ruddy 
features ahowingimpatient annoyance, 
exaggerated to an appearance of fe- 
rocity by the light of the flashlamp. 

"How about the cellar?" suggested 
Tommy. 

"Probably where it is," agreed Frank, 
"but I don't relish this job so much. 
I'd hate to find Leland stiff down there, 
if that's where he is." 

"Me, too," said Tommy. "But we're 
here now, so let's finish tfie job and 
get back home. It's cold here, too." 

"You said it. No steam in the pipes 
at all. He must have let the fire go out 
in his furnace, and that's probably in 
the cellar too— usually is." 

WHILE talking, Frank had 
opened each of the four doors 
that opened from the kitchen, and the 
fourth revealed a stairway that led into 
the blackness beneath. With the beam 
of his torch directed at the steps, he 
proceeded to descend, and Tommy fol- 
lowed carefully. There was no light 
button at the had of the stairs, where 
it would have been placed in a more 
modern house, and it was until they 
had reached the furnace room that they 
located a light fixture with a pull cord. 
An ordinary cellar, with furnace, coal 
'bin, and a conglomeration of dust-cov- 
ered trunks and discarded furniture, 
was revealed. And, at its far end, was 
the iron-bound door. 

The door was locked and could not 
be shaken by the combined efforts of 
the two men. 

"Have to have a battering ram," 
grunted Fiunk, casting about for a 
suitable implement. 

"Here you. are," called Tommy, after 
a moment's search. "Just the thing we 
are looking for." 

HE had come upon a pile of logs, 
and one of these, evidently a 
lection of an old telephone pole, was 
of some ten or twelve inches diameter 
and about fifteen feet long. Frank 
pounced upon it eagerly, and, support- 



ing most of the weight himself, led the 
attack on the heavy oak door with the 
iron bands. 

No sound from within greeted the 
thunderous poundings. Clearly, if Le- 
land was behind that door, he was 
either dead or unconscious. 

Finally the double lock gave way and 
Tommy and Frank were precipitated 
headlong into the brightly lighted 
room beyond. Recovering their' bal- 
ance, they took stock of their sur- 
roundings and were amazed at what 
they saw — a huge laboratory, fitted out 
with every modern appliance that 
money could buy. A Completely 
equipped machine shop there was; 
bench after bench covered with the 
familiar paraphernalia of the chemical 
and physical laboratory; huge retorts 
and stills; complicated electrical equip- 
ments ; dozens of cabinets holding cru- 
cibles, flasks, bottles, glass tubing, and 
what not. 

"Good Lord 1" gasped Tommy. 
"Here's a laboratory to more than 
match our own. Why, Leland's got a 
fortune invested here!" 

"I should say so. Amfa lot of stuff 
that our company does not even have. 
Some of it I don't know even the use 
of. But where is Leland?" 

THERE was no sign of the man 
they had come to help. He was 
not in the laboratory, though th^e door 
had been locked from within and the 
lights left burning throughout. 

With painstaking care they searched 
every nook and cranny of the large 
single room and were about to give up 
in despair when Tommy happened to 
observe an ivory button set into the 
wall at the only point in the room 
where there were no 'machines or 
benches at hand. Experimentally he 
pressed the button, and, at the answer- 
ing rumble from under his feet, jumped 
back in alarm. Slowly there opened 
in the paneled oak wall a rectangular 
door, a door of large enough size to 
admit a man. From the recess beyond 
there came a breath of air, foul with 



196 ASTOUNDING STORIES • 

the musty odor^of decayed vegetation, and louder until it seemed they must 

dank as the air of a tomb. be deafened. The penetrating wail 

"Ah-h-hJ" breathed Frank. "So that rose from the depth* of the pit, and 

is where Ed Leland is hiding! The the vibration was all around them, in 

secret retreat of the gloomy scientislT" the damp rock floor on which they 

He spoke half jestingly, yet when knelt, and in the very air of the cavern, 

he squeezed his stalwart bulk through Hastily Frank snapped on the light of 

the opening and flashed the beam of his flash. 

his light into the darkness of a narrow "Oh boy I" he whispered. "Leland 
passage ahead he was assailed with is certainly up to something down 
vague forebodings. Tommy followed there and no mistake! How're we go- 
close behind and spoke not a word. ing to get down?" 

"Get down?" asked Tommy. "Yon 

THE passage floor was. thick with don't want to go down there, do you?" 

dust, but tin marks of many foot- "Sure thing. We're this far now N 

steps going and returning gave mute and, by George, we're going to find out 

evidence of the frequency of Leland's all there is to learn." 

visits. The air was heavy and bppres- 1 "How deep do you suppose it is?" 

sive and the temperature and humidity "Pretty deep, Tommy. But we can 

increased as they progressed along the get an idea by dropping a stone and 

winding length of the rock-walled counting- the seconds until it strikes." 
passageway. The floor sloped ever 

downward and, in spots, was slippery TTE played the light of the flash 

with slimy seepage. It seemed that fl over the floor and soon located 

they turned back on their course on a smooth round stone of the size of a 

several occasions but were descending baseball. This he tosBed over the rim 

deeper and deeper into the heart of the of the pit and awaited results, 

mountain. Then, abruptly, the passage "Good grief!" exclaimed Tommy, 

ended at the mouth of -a shaft, <Which> "It's not falling 1 !" 

dropped vertically from almost beneattt What be said was true, for the stone 

their feet. poised lightly over the opening and 

"Whew!" exclaimed Frank. "An- drifted like a feather. Then slowly it 

other step and I'd have dropped into moved, settling gradually into oblivion, 

it. 'That's probably what happened to Frank turned the flash downward and 

Leland." ' they watched in astonishment as the 

He knelt at the rim of the circular two-pound pebble floated deliberately 

opening and looked into the depths of down the center of the shaft at the rate 

the pit. Tommy following suit. The of not more than one foot in each 

feeble- ray of the flashlight was lost in second. 

the blackness below. "Well, I'll be doggoned," breathed 
"Say, Frank," whispered Tommy, Frank admiringly. "Leland has done 
"turn off the flash. I think I saw a it. He has conquered gravity. For, in 
light down there." that pit at least, there is no gravity, 
And, with the snapping of the catch, or at any rate not enough to mention, 
there came darkness. But, miles be- It has been almost completely counter- 
low them, it seemed, there was a tiny acted by some force he has discovered 
pin-point of brilliance — an eery green and now we know how to follow him 
light that was like a wavering phos- down -there. Come on Tommy, let's 
phorescence of will-o'-the-wisp. For go I" 

a moment it shone and was gone. Then And, suiting action to his words, 

came the dreadful" vibration they had Frank jumped into the mouth of the 

experienced in the hall of the house — pit where he bobbed about for a mo- 

the whistling scream that grew louder ment as if he had jumped into a pool 



SILVER DOME 



197 



of water. Then slowly he sank from 
view, and Tommy followed him. 

IT was a most unique experience, 
that drop into the hearty of the 
mountain. Practically weightless, the 
two young men found it quite difficult 
to negotiate the passage. For the first 
hundred or more feet they continued 
to bump about in the narrow shaft and 
each sustained painful bruises before 
he learned that the best and, simplest 
method of accommodating himself to 
the strange condition was to remain 
absolutely motionless and allow the 
greatly weakened gravity to take its 
course. Each movement of an arm or 
leg was accompanied by a change in 
direction of movement, and contact" 
with the hard stone walls followed. If 
they endeavored " to push themselves 
from the contact the result was likely 
to be^an even more serious bump on 
the opposite side of the shaft. So they 
continued the leisurely drop into the 
unknown depth of the pit. 

Frank had turned off the flashlamp, 
for its battery was giving out and he 
wished to conserve its remaining en- 
ergy for eventualities. Thus they 
were in Stygian darkness for nearly a 
half-hour, though the green luminosity 
far beneath them grew stronger with 
each passing minute. It now revealed 
itself as a clearly defined disc of light 
that flickered and " sputtered continu- 
ally, frequently lighting the lower end 
of the shaft with an unusual burst of 
brilliance. Remotely distant It seemed 
though, and unconscionably slow in 
drawing nearer. 

"How far do you think we must 
drop?" called Tommy to Frank, who 
was probably fifty feet below him in 
the shaft. 

"Well, I figure we have fallen about 
■ thousand feet so far," came the reply, 
"and my guess is that we are about one 
third of the way down." 

"Then this shaft is over a half-mile 
deep, you think?" 

, "Yes, at least a thousand yards, I 
•kould say. And I hope his gTavity 



neutralizing machinery doesn't quit all 
of a sudden and let us down." 

"Me, too," called Tommy, who had 
not thought of that possibility. 

THIS was no joke, this falling in- 
to an unknown region so far be- 
neath the surface of good old mother 
earth, thought Tommy. And how they 
would ever return was another thing 
that was not so funny. Frank was al- 
ways rushing into things like this 
without counting the possible cost and 
— well — this might be the last time. 

Gradually the mysterious Might be- 
came stronger and soon titty could 
make out the conformation of the rock 
walls they were passing at such a 
snail's pace. Layers of vari-colored 
rock showed here and there, and, at 
one point there was a stratum of gold- 
bearing or mica-filled rock that glis- 
tened with a million reflections and re- 
reflections. The air grew warmer and 
more humid as they neared the mys- 
terious light source. They moved 
steadily, without acceleration, and 
Frank estimated the rate at about 
forty feet a minute. Then, with blind- 
ing suddenness, the light wda\ immedi- 
ately below and' they drifted into a 
tremendous cavern that was illuminat- 
ed by its glow. 

Directly beneath the lower end of 
the shaft through which they had 
passed, there was a glowing disc of 
metal about fifteen feet in diameter. 
They drifted to its surface and 
sprawled awkwardly where they fell. 
Scumbling to gain a footing, they 
bounced and floated about like toy bal- 
loons before realizing that it would 
be necessary to creep slowly from the 
influence of that repellingyforce which 
had made the long drop possible with- 
out injury. Gravity met them at the 
disc's edge with what seemed to be un- 
usual violence. 

AT first it seemed that their bod- 
ies weighed twice the normal 
amount, but this feeling soon passed 
and they looked about them with in- 



198 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



credulous amazement. The metal disc 
was quite evidently the medium 
through which the repelling force was 
set up in the shaft, and to this disc 
was connected a series of heavy cables 
that led to a pedestal nearby. On the 
pedestal was a controlling lever and 
this moved over a quadrant that was 
graduated in degrees, one end of the 
quadrant being labeled "Up" and the 
other "Dowrl." The lever now stood 
at a point but a vefy few degrees from 
the center or "Zero" mark and on the 
down side. Frank pulled this lever 
over to the full "Down" position and 
they found that they could walk over 
the disc with normal gravity. 

"I suppose," said Frank, "that if the 
lever -is at the other end of the scale 
one would fall upward with full 
gravity acceleration — reversed. At 
zero, gravity is exactly neutralized, 
and the intermediate positions are use- 
ful in conveying materials or human 
beings up and down the shaft as de- 
sired. Very clever; but what is the 
reason for it all?" 

In the precise center of the great 
cavern there was a dome or hemisphere 
of polished metal, and it was from this 
dome that the eery light emanated. At 
times, when the light died down, this 
dome gleamed with dull Bickerings 
that threatened to vanish <• entirely. 
Then suddenly it would resume full 
brilliance, and thegjeht ; was marvelous 
beyond description. A slight hissing 
sound came from the direction of the 
dome, and this varied in intensity as 
did the light. r 

"Gosh I" said Tommy. "That looks 
like silver to me. And, if it is, what a 
wealthy man our friend Leland has be- 
come. He has spent his fortune well, 
even if he used it all to get to this." 

"Yes, but where is he?" commented 
Frank. Then: "Leland I Leland I" he 
called. 

HIS voice echoed through the huge 
vault and re-echoed hollowly. 
But there was no reply save renewed 
flickering! from the dome. 



Leaving the vicinity of the gravity 
disc, the two men advanced in the di- 
rection of the shining dome, which wu 
about a quarter-mile from where they 
stood. Both perspired freely, for the 
air was very close and the temperature 
high. But the light of the dome was 
as cold as the light of a firefly and they 
had no hesitancy in drawing near. It 
was a beautiful sight, this dome of sil- 
ver with its flickering lights and per- 
fect contour. 

"By George, I believe it is silver," 
exclaimed Frank, when they were 
within a few feet of the dome. "No 
other metal has that precise color. And 
look! There is a wheelbarrow and 
some mining tools. Leland has been 
cutting away some of the material." 

Sure enough, there was indisputable 
evidence of the truth of his statement 
And the material was undoubtedly 
silver I • 

"Silver Dome," breathed Tommy, 
holding a lump of the metal in hit 
hand. . "A solid dome of pure silver- 
fifty feet high and a hundred In dia- 
meter. How much does that figure In 
dollars and cents, Frank?" 

"Maybe it isn't solid," said Frank 
dryly, "though it's worth a sizeable 
fortune even; if it is hollow. And we 
haven't found Leland." 

THEY circled the dome twice and 
looked into every corner of the 
great cavern, but. there was no sign of 
the man for whom they searched; The 
wheelbarrow was half filled with lumps 
of the heavy metal, and maul and driV( 
lay where they had .been dropped by 
the lone miner. A cavity three feet 
acrosB, and as many deep, appeared in 
the side of the dome to show that con- 
siderably more than one wheelbarrow 
load had been removed. 

"Funny," grunted Tommy. "Seems 
almost like the old dome had swal- 
lowed him up." 

At his words there camo the terrific 
vibration. , jThe light of the dome died 
out, leaving them in utter darkness, 
and from its interior there rose the 



SILVER DOME 



199 



mounting scream that had frightened 
old Thomas away. From so close by 
it was hideous, devastating; and the 
two men clung to each other in fright, 
expecting momentarily that the earth 
would give way beneath their feet and 
precipitate them , into some terrible 
depth from which there could be no 
return. 

Then the sound abruptly ceased and 
a gleam of light came from under the 
dome of silver. A crack appeared be- 
tween its lower edge and the rocky 
floor of the cavem, and through this 
crack there shone a light of dazzling 
brilliancy — a warm light of rosy hue. 
Wider grew the opening until there 
was a full three feet between the floor 
and the bottom of the dome. Impelled 
by some irresistible force from within, 
the two men stumbled blindly to the 
opening, fell to the floor and rolled 
inside. 

There was a heavy, thud and the 
dome had returned to its normal posi- 
tion, with Frank and Tommy prisoners 
within its spacious hollow. The warm 
light bathed them with fearful in- 
tensity for a moment, then faded to a 
rosy glow that dulled their senses and 
quieted their nerves. Morpheus claimed 
them. ! 

WHEN Frank awoke he found 
himself between silken covers, 
tad for a moment he gazed thoughtful- 
ly at a high arched ceiling that was en- 
tirely unfamiliar. Then, remembering, 
he sprang from the downy bed to his 
feet The room, the' furnishings, his 
lilken robe, everything was strange. 
Hit bed, he saw, was a high one, and 
the frame was of the same gleaming 
alver as the dome under which they 
hid been trapped. The arched ceiling 
glowed softly with the same rosy hue 
u had the inner surface of the dome. 
A large pool of water invited him, the 
atrface of the pool being no more than 
t foot below the point where it was 
built into the tile floor of the room. 
A large open doorway connected with 
a similar adjoining room, where he sus- 



pected Tommy had been taken. On his 
bare toes, he moved silently to the 
other room and saw that his guess had 
been correct. > Tommy lay Bleeping 
quietly beneath covers as soft as his 
own and amidst equal luxury of sur- 
roundings. 

"Well," he whispered, "this doesn't 
look as though we would come to any 
harm. And I might as well take a dive 
in that pool." 

Returning to his own room, he re- 
moved the silken garment with which 
he had been provided and was quietly 
immersed in the cool. Invigorating wa- 
ter of the bath. His head cleared in- 
stantly. 

"Hi there 1" called Tommy from the 
doorway. "Why didn't you wake me 
up? Where are we, anyway?" 

With dripping head andT shoulders 
above the water, Frank was compelled 
to laugh at the sleepy-eyed, wondering 
expression on the blue-jowled facf of 
his friend. "Thought you were dead 
to the world," he returned, "you old 
sleepy-head. And I don't know where 
we are, excepting that it is somewhere 1 
under the silver dome. What's more, 
I don't much care. You should get into 
this water. It's great I" 

SO saying, he dived to the bottom of 
the pool and stood on his hands, 
his feet waving ludicrously above the 
surface. Tommy sniffed once and then 
made a quick dash for the pool in his 
own room. He was not to be outdone 
by his more energetic partner. 

A half-hour later, shaved and attired 
in their own garments, which had been 
cleaned and pressed and hung neatly 
in the closets, they settled themselves 
for a discussion of the situation. Hav- 
ing tried the doors of both rooms and 
found them locked from the outside, 
there was no other course open to 
them. They must await developments. 

"Looks like Leland has quite an es- 
tablishment down hert inside the 
mountain," ventured Tommy. 

"Hml" snorted Frank, "this place is 
none of Leland's work. He is prob- 



200 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



i 

■My a prisoner here, as are we. He 
just stumbled on to the silver dome and 
was captured by whatever race is liv- 
ing down here beneath it, the same as 
we/ were. Who the real inhabitants 
are, and what the purpose of all this is, 
remains to be seen." 

"You think we are in friendly 
hands ?" 

"These quarters do not look much 
like prison cells, Tommy, but I must 
admit that we are locked in. Anyhow, 
I'm not worrying, and we will soon 
learn our fate add have to be ready to 
meet it. The people who own this 
place must have everything they want, 
and they sure have some scientific 
knowledge that is not known to us on 
the surface." 

"Wonder if they are humans?" 

"Certainly they are. You never 
heard of wild beasts sleeping in beds 
like these, did you?" 
i 

TOMMY laughed as he examined 
the exquisite hand-wrought figures 
on the ^liver bedstead. "No, I didn't," 
he admitted; "but where on earth did 
they come from, and what are they 
doing here?" O 

"You ask too many questions," re- 
plied Frank, shrugging his broad 
shoulders. "We must simply wait for 
the answers to 'reveal themselves." ' 

There was a soft rap at the door of 
Frank's room, where the two men were 
talking. 

"Come in," called Frank, chuckling 
at the idea of such consideration from 
their captors. 

A key rattled in the lock and the 
door swung open to admit the hand- 
somest Aian they had ever set eyes on. 
He was taller than Frank by several 
inches, standing no less than six feet 
five in his thin-soled sandals, and he 
carried himself with the air for an em- 
peror. His marble-white body was un- 
covered with the exception of a loin 
cloth of silver hue, and lithe muscles 
rippled beneath his smooth skin as he 
advanced' to meet the prisoners. His 
head, surmounted by curly hair of 



ebon darkness, was large, and his fore- 
head high. The features were classic 
and perfectly regular. The corners of 
his mouth drew upward in a benign 
smile. 

"Greetings," he said. In perfect En- 
glish and in a soft voice, "to the do- 
main of Theros. You need fear no 
harm from our people* and will be re- 
turned to the upper world when the 
time comes. We hope to make your 
stay with us enjoyable and instructive, 
and that you will carry back kind mem- 
ories of us. The morning meal awaits 
you now." 

SO taken aback were the two young 
Americans that they stared fool- 
ishly agape for a space. Then a tin- 
kling laugh from the tall stranger set 
them once more at ease. 

"You will pardon us, I hope," apolo- 
gized Frank, "but this is all so unex- 
pected and so unbelievable that your 
words struck me speechless. And I 
know that my friend was similarly af- 
fected. We place ourselves in your 
hands." 

The handsome giant nodded under- 
standing. "No offense was taken," he 
murmured, "since none was intended. 
And your feelings 'are not to be won- 
dered at. You may call me Orrin." 

He turned toward the open door and 
signified that they were to follow him. 
They fell in at his side with alacrity, 
both suddenly realizing that they were 
very hungry. 

They followed in silent wonderment 
as Orrln led the, way to a broad bal- 
cony that overlooked a great under- 
ground city — a city lighted by the soft 
glow from some vast lighting system 
incorporated in its vaulted ceiling high 
overhead. The balcony was many lev- 
els above the streets, which were alive 
with active beings of similar appear- 
ance to Orrin, these speeding hither 
and yon by means of the many lanei 
of traveling ways of which the streeti 
were composed. The buildings — end- 
less rows of them lining the orderly 
streets — were octagonal in sha'pe and 



SILVER DOME 



201 



rose to the height of about twenty stor- 
ies, as nearly as could be judged by 
earthly standards. There were no win- 
dows, but at about, every fifth floor 
there was an outer silver-railed balcony 
similar to the one on which they 
walked. The air was filled with bowl- 
shaped flying ships that sped over the 
roof tops in endless procession and 
without visible means of support or 
propulsion. Yet the general effect of 
the busy scene was one of precise or- 
derliness, unmarred by confusion or 
distracting noises. 

ORRIN vouchsafed no explanations 
and they soon reentered the large 
building of which the balcony was a 
part. Here they were conducted to a 
sumptuously furnished dining room 
where their breakfast awaited them. 

During the meal, which consisted of 
several courses of fruits and cereals 
entirely strange to Frank and Tommy, 
they were tended by Orrin with the 
utmost deference and most painstaking 
attention. He anticipated their every 
want, and their thoughts as well. For, 
when Frank endeavored to ask one of 
the many questions with which his 
mind was filled, he was interrupted by 
a wave of the hand and a smile from 
their placid host. 

"It is quite clear to me that you have 
many questions to propound," said Or- 
rin, "and this is not a matter of won- 
der. But it is not permitted that I 
enlighten you on the points you have 
in»mind. You must first finish your 
meal. Then it is to be my privilege to 
conduct you to the presence of Phaes- 
tra, Empress of Thieros, who will reveal 
all. May I ask that you be patient 
until then?" 

So friendly was his smile and so 
polished his manner that they re- 
strained their impatience and finished 
the excellent breakfast in polite 
silence. 

And Orrin was as good as his word, 
for, no sooner had they finished when 
he led themljrom the room and showed 
the way to the elevator which conveyed 



them to the upper floor of the building. 

From the silver-grilled cage of the 
lift they stepped into a room of such 
beauty and magnificence of decoration 
that they gazed about them in wonder- 
ing admiration. The paneling and 
mouldings were of hammered silver 
that gleamed with polished splendor 
In the soft rose glow of the hidden 
lights. The hangings were of heavy 
plush of deep green hue and bore in- 
tricate designs of silver thread woven 
into the material. At the opposite side 
of the room there was a} pair of huge 
double doors of chased Silver and on 
either side of this pretentious portal 
there stood an attendant attired as was 
Orrin, but bearing a silver scepter to 
denote his official capacity. 

"Phaestra awaits the visitors from 
above," intoned one of the attendants. 
Both bowed stiffly from the waist when 
Orrin led > the two young scientists, 
through the great doors which had 
opened silently and majestically at 
their approach. 

IF the outer room was astonishing 
in its sumptuousness of decoration 
and furnishing, the one they now en- 
tered was positively breath-taking. On 
every side there were the exquisite 
green and silver hangings. Tables, di- 
vans, and rugs of priceless design and 
workmanship. But the beauty of the 
surroundings faded into insignificance 
when they saw the empress. 

A canopied dais in the center of the 
room drew their attention and they saw 
that Phaestra had risen from her seat 
in a deeply cushioned divan and now 
stood at Its side in an attitude of wel- 
come. Nearly as tall ay Frank, she waa 
a figure of commanding and imperioQa 
beauty. The whiteness of her body 
was accentuated by the silver embroi- 
dered and tightly fitted black vest- 
ments that covered yet did not conceal 
its charms. A halo of glorious golden 
hair surmounted a head that was poised 
expectantly alert above the perfectly 
rounded shoulders. The exquisite oval 
of her face was chiseled in features of 



202 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



transcendent loveliness. She spoke, 
and, at sound of her musical voice, 
Frank and Tommy were enslaved. 

ENTLEMEN of the upper 

vJT world," she said gently, "you 
are welcome to Theros. Your inner- 
most thoughts have been recorded by 
our scientists and found good. With a 
definite purpose in mind, you learned 
of the existence of the silver dome of 
Theros, yet you came without greed 
or malice and we have taken you in to 
enlighten you on the many questions 
that are in your minds and to return 
you to mankind with a knowledge of 
Theros — which you must keep secret. 
You are about to delve into a mystery 
of the ages; to see and learn many 
things that are beyond the ken of your 
kind. It is a privilege never before 
accorded to beings from above." 

"We thank you, oh, Queen," spoke 
Frank humbly, his eyes rivetted to the 
gaze of those violet orbs that seemed 
to see into his very soul. Tommy mum- 
bled some commonplace. 

"Orrin — the sphere!" Phaestra, 
slightly embarrassed by Frank's ftarc, 
clapped her hands. 

At her command, C|Qin, who had 
stood quietly by, stepped to the wall 
and manipulated some mechanism that 
was hidden by the hangings. There 
was a musical purr from beneath the' 
floor, an,d, through a circular opening 
which appeared as if by magic, there 
rose\a crystal sphere of some four feet 
in diameter. Slowly it rose until it 
reached the level of their eyes and 
there it came to rest. The empress 
raised her hands as if in invocation and 
the soft glow of the lights died down, 
leaving them in momentary darkness. 
There came a slight murmur from the 
sphere, and it lighted with the eery 
green Bickerings they had observed in 
the dome of silver. 

FASCINATED by the weaving 
lights within, they gazed into the 
depths of the crystal with awed expec- 
tancy. Phaestra spoke. 



"Men from the surface," she said, 
"you, Frank Rowley, and you, Arnold 
Thompson, are about to witness the 
powers of that hemisphere of metal 
you were pleased to term 'Silver Dome.' 
As you rightly surmised, the dome is 
of silver — mostly. There are small per- 
centages ' of platinum, iridium, and 
other elements, but it is more than 
nine-tenths pure silver. To you of the 
surface the alloy is highly valuable for 
its intrinsic worth by your own stand- 
ards, but to us the value of the dome 
lies in its function in revealing to us 
the past and present events of our uni- 
verse. The dome is the 'eye' of a com- 
plicated apparatus which enables us to 
see and hear any desired happening on 
the surface of. the earth, beneath its 
surface, or an the many inhabited plan- 
ets of the heavens. This is accom- 
plished by means of extremely complex 
vibrations radiated from the hemi- 
sphere, these vibrations penetrating 
earth, metals, buildings, space itself, 
and returning to our viewing and 
sound reproducing spheres to reveal 
the desired past or present 'occurrences 
at the point at which the rays of vibra- 
tions are directed. 

"TN order to view the past on our 
X own planet, the rays, which travel 
at the speed of light, are sent out in a 
huge circle through space, returning to 
earth after having spent the requisite 
number of years in transit. Instant- 
aneous effect is secured by a connect- 
ing beam that ties together the ends 
of the enormous arc. This, of course, 
is beyond your -comprehension, since 
the Ninth Dimension is involved. When 
it is desired that events of the present 
be observed, the rays are projected di- 
rect. The future can not be viewed, 
since, in order to accomplish this, it 
would be necessary that the rays tiavel 
at a speed greater than that of light, 
which is manifestly impossible." 

"Great guns I" gasped Frank. "This 
crystal sphere then, is capable of 
bringing to our eyes and ears the hap- 
penings of centuries past?" 



SILVER DOME 



203 



"It is, my dear Frank," said Phaes- 
tra, "and I ^tfould that I were able to 
describe the process more clearly." She 
smiled, and in the unearthly light of 
the sphere she appeared more beautiful 
than before, if such a thing were pos- 
sible. 

On the pedestal which supported the 
sphere there vras a glittering array of 
dials and levers. Several of these con- 
trols were now adjusted by Phaestra, 
the delicate motions of her tapered fin- 
gers being watched by the visitors 
with intense admiration. There came 
a change in the note of the sphere, a 
steadying of the flickerrngs within. 

"Behold I" exclaimecr Phaestra. 

THEY gazed into the depths of the 
sphere and lost all sense of de- 
tachment from the scene depicted 
therein. It seemed they were at a 
point several thousand miles from the 
surface of a planet. A great continent 
spread beneath them, its irregular 
shore line being clearly outlined 
against a large body of water. Here 
and there the surface was obscured by 
great white patches of clouds that cast 
their shadows below. 

"Atlantis I" breathed Phaestra"' rev- 
erently. 

The lost continent of mythology I 
The fabled body of land that was en- 
gulfed by the Atlantic thousands of 
years ago — a fact I 

Tommy glanced at Prank, noting 
that he had withdrawn, his gaze from 
the sphere and was devouring Phaestra 
with his eyes. As if drawn by the 
ardor of his observation, she raised her 
own eyes from the sphere to meet those 
of the handsome visitor. Obviously 
confused, she dropped her long lashes 
and turned nervously to the controls. 
Tommy experienced a sudden feeling 
of dread. Surely his pal was not fall- 
ing in love with this Theronian em- 
press! 

Then there came another change in 
the note of the sphere and once more 
they lost themselves in contemplation 
of the sceri^ within. The surface of 



the lost continent was rushing madly 
to meet them. With terrific velocity 
they seemed to be falling. An invol- 
untary gasp was forced from Tommy's 
lips. Mountains, valleys,'' rivers could 
now be discerned. 

THEN the Bcene shifted slightly 
and they were stationary, directly 
above a large seacoast city. A city of 
great beauty it was, and its buildings 
were of the same octagonal shape as 
were those of Therosl There could 
be but one inference — the Theronians 
were direct descendants of those in- 
habitants of ancient Atlantis. 

"Yes," sighed Phaestra, in answer to 
the thought she had read, "our ances- 
tors were those you now ' see in the 
streets of this city of Atlantis. ~ A mar- 
velous race they were, too. When the 
rest of the world was still savage] and 
unenlightened, they knew more of the 
arts and sciences than is known on the 
surface to-day. The mysteries of the 
Fourth Dimension they had already 
solved. Their telescopes were of such 
power that they knew of the existence 
of intelligent beings on Mars and 
Venus. They had conquered the air. 
They knew of the relation between 
gravity and magnetism but recently 
propounded by your Einstein. They 
were prosperous, happy. Then— but 
watch !" " 
Faint sounds of the life of the city 
came to their ears. A swarm of mono- 
planes roared past just beneath them. 
The streets were crowded with rapidly 
moving vehicles, the roof-tops with 
air-craft. Then suddenly the scene 
darkened; a deep rumbling came from 
the sea. As they watched in fascinat- 
ed wonder, a great fhasm opened Ap 
through the heart of the city. Till 
buildings swayed and crumbled, falling 
into .heaps of twisted metal and 
crushed masonry and burying hun- 
dreds of the populace in their fall. The 
confusion was indescribable, the up- 
roar terrific and within the space of a 
very few minutes the entire city was 
a mass of ruins, fully half of the 



204 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



wrecked area having been swallowed 
up by the heaving waters of the ocean. 

PHAESTRA stifled a Bob. "Thus 
it began," she stated. "Trovus 
was first — the city you just saw — then 
came three more of the cities of the 
western coast in rapid succession. 
Computations of the scientists showed 
that the upheaval was widespread and 
that the entire continent was to be en- 
gulfed in a very short time. The ex- 
odus began, butsit was too late, and 
only a few hundred people were able 
to escape the continent before it was 
finally destroyed. The ocean became 
the tomb of two hundred millions. The 
handful of survivors reached the coast 
of what is now North America. But 
the rigors of the climate proved severe 
and more /than three-quartersvof them 
perished within a few dayiJkwr their 
planes landed. Then the rearjpok to 
the caves along the jfefifl andNfor a 
while were safe." j 

She manipulated the controls once 
more and there was a quick shift to 
another coast, a rugged, wave-beaten 
shore. Closer they' drew until they 
observed a lofty palisade that extended 
for miles along the barren waterfront. 
They saw a fire atop this elevation and 
active men and women at various tasks 
within the narrow circle of its warmth. 
A cave mouth opened at the brink of 
the precipice near the spot they occu- 
pied. • 

Then came a repitition of the up- 
heaval at Trovus. The ocean rushed 
in and beat against the cliff with such 
ferocity that its spray was tossed hun- 
dreds of feet in the air. The. earth 
shook and the group of people around 
the fire made a hasty retreat to the 
mouth of the cave. The sky darkened 
and the winds howled with demoniac 
fury. Quake after quake rent the rug- 
ged cliffs; huge sections toppled into 
the angry waters. Then a . great tidal 
wave swept in and covered everything, 
cliffs, cave mouths and all. Nought 
remained where they had been but the 
seething waters. 



U T*>UT some escaped V exulted 

■ » Phaestra, "and these discov- 
ered Theros. Though many miles of 
the eastern seaboard of your United 
States were submerged and the coast- 
line entirely altered, these few were 
saved. Their cave connected with a 
long passage, a tunnel that led into the 
bowels of the earth. With the outer 
entrance blocked by the upheaval they 
had no alternative save to continue 
downward. 

"They traveled for days and days. 
Some were overcome by hunger and 
fell by the wayside. The most hardy 
survived to reach Theros, a series of 
enormous caverns that extends for 
hundreds of miles under the surface of 
your country. Here they found sub- 
terranean lakes of pure water; forests, 
game. They had a few tools and weap- 
one and they established themselves 
in this underground world. From that 
small beginning came this I" 

Phaestra's slim fingers worked rap- 
idly at the controls. The scenes shift- 
ed in quick succession. They were 
once more in the present, and seemed 
to be traveling speedily through the 
underground reaches of Theros. Now 
they were racing through a longlight- 
ed passage; now 'over a great city 1 
similar to the one in which they had 
arrived. Here they visited a huge 
workshop or laboratory; there a mine 
where radium or cobalt or platinum 
was being wrested from the vitals of 
the unwilling earth. Then they visit- 
ed a typical Theronian household, saw 
the perfect peace and happiness in 
which the family lived. Again they 
were in a large power plant where di- 
rect application of the internal heat of 
the earth as obtained through deep 
shafts bored into the interior was util- 
ized in generating electricity. 

They saw vast quantities of supplies^ 
fifty-ton masses of machinery, moved 
from place to place as lightly as feath- 
ers by use of the gravity discs, those 
heavily charged plates whose emana- 
tions counteracted the earth's attrac- 
tion. In one busy laboratory they saw 



SILVER DOME 



205 



m immense television apparatus and 
beard scientists discussing moot ques- 
tions with inhabitant of Venus, whose 
images were depicted on the screen. 
They witnessed a severe electrical 
storm in the huge cavern arch over one 
of the cities, a storm that condensed 
moisture from the artificially oxygen- 
ated and humidified atmosphere In such 
blinding sheets as to easily explain the 
necessity for well-roofed-buildings in 
the underground realm. And, in all 
the speech and activities of the Thero- 
nians, there was evident that all-per- 
vading feeling of absolute contentment 
and freedom from care. 

"What I can not understand," said 
Frank, during a quiet interval, "is why 
the Theronians have "never migrated to 
the surface. Surely, with all your 
command of science and mechanics, 
that would be easy.* 

"Why? Why?'/ Phaestra's voice 
ipoke volumes. .^Here — I'll show you 
the reason." 

AND again the scene in the sphere 
changed. They were on the sur- 
face and a few years in the past — at 
Chateau Thierry. They saw their fel- 
low men mangled and broken; saw hu- 
man beings shot down by hundreds in 
withering bursts of machine-gun fire; 
■aw them in hand-to-hand bayonet 
fights; gassed and in delirium from the 
horror of' it all. 

They traveled over thf ocean; saw 
a big passenger liner the victim of tor- 
pedo fire; saw babies tossed into the 
water by distracted mothers who 
jumped in after them to join them in 
death. 

A few years were passed by and 
they saw gang wars in Chicago and 
New York; saw militia and picketing 
strikers in mortal combat ; saw wealthy 
brokers and bank presidents turn pis- 
tola on themselves following a crash 
in the stock market; government offi- 
cials serving penitentiary terms for be- 
trayal of the people's trust; opium 
dens, speakeahies, sex crimes. It was 
i fearful .indictment 



"Ah, no," said Phaestra kindly, "the 
surface world has not yet emerged 
from savagery. We should be unwel- 
come were we to venture outside. And 
now we come to the reason for your 
visit. You came in search of one Ed- 
win Leland, a fellow worker at one 
time. Your motives; axe above re- 
proach. But Leland came as a greedy 
searcher of riches. We brought him 
within to teach him the error of his 
ways and to beg him to desist from his 
efforts at destroying the dome of sil- 
ver. He alone knew thejfeecret. 

"Then you followed him and we took 
you in for similar reasons, 'though our 
scientists found very quickly that your 
mental reactions were of entirely dif- 
ferent type from Leland's and that the 
secret would be- safe in your keeping. 
Leland remains obdurate. He threat- 
ens us with physical violence, and his 
reactions to the thought-reading ma-, 
chines are of the most treacherous sort. 
We must keep him with us. He shall 
remain unharmed, but he must not be 
allowed to return. That is the story. 
You two are free to leave when you 
choose. I ask not that you give your 
word to keep the secret of 'Silver 
Dome.' I know it is not necessary." 

THE lights had resumed their nor- 
mal glow, and the marvelous 
sphere returned to its receptacle be- 
neath the floor. Phaestra resumed her 
seat on the canopied divan. Frank 
dropped to a seaf on the edge of the 
dais. Tommy and Orrin remained 
standing, Tommy lost in thought and 
Orrin stolidly mute. The empress 
avoided Frank's gaze studiously. Her 
cheeks were flushed; fcr eyes bright- 
with emotion. ~> 
Frank was first to break the silence. 
"Leland is in solitary confinement?" 
he asked. 

"For the present He is under guard," 
replied Phaestra. "He was quite vio- 
lent and it was necessary to disarm 
him after he had killed one of my at- 
tendants with a shot from his auto- 
matic pistol. When he agrees to sub- 



206 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



mit peacefully, he shall be given the 
freedom of Theros for the remainder 
of his life." . t 

"Perhaps," suggested Frank', "if I 
spoke to him. . ."' 

"The very thing." Phaestra thanked 
him with her wondrous eyes. 

A high pitched note rang out from 
behind the hangings, and, in rapid syl- 
lables of the language of Theros, a 
voice broke forth from the concealed 
amplifiers. Orrin, startled from his 
stoicism, sprang to the side of his em- 
press.. She rose from her seat as the 
voice completed it excited message. 

"It ib Leland," she said calmly. "He 
has escaped and recovered his pistol. 
I have been told that he is now at Targe 
in the palace, terrorizing the house- 
bold. We have no weapons here, you 
see." 

"Good God? ' shouted Frank. "Sup- 
pose he should come here?" 

HE jumped to his feet just as a 
shot rang out in the antecham- 
ber. Orrin dashed to the portal when 
a second shot spat forth from the auto- 
matic which must certainly be in the 
hands of a madman. The doors swung-' 
wide "and Leland, hair disarranged and 
bloodshot eyes staring, burst into the 
room. Orrin went dow» at the next 
shot and the hardly recognizable 
scientist advanced toward the; dais. 

When he saw F»ank and Tommy he 
stopped in his tracks. "So you two 
have been following me!" he snarled. 
"Well, you won't keep me from my 
purpose. I'm here to kill this queen 
of hell I" , 

Once more he raised his automatic, 
but Frank had been watching closely 
and he literally dove from the steps 
of the dais to the knees of the de- 
ranged Leland. As beautiful a tackle 
as he had (ever made in his college 
football days' laid the maniac low with 
a crashing thud that told of a frac- 
tured skulL The bullet intended for 
Phaestra went wide, striking Tommy 
in the shouder. 
Spun half way around by the impact 



of the heavy bullet, Tommy fought to 
retain his balance. But his knees went 
suddenly awry and gave way beneath 
him. He crumpled helplessly to the 
floor, staring foolishly at the prostrate 
figure of Leland and at Frank, who 
had risen to his feet and now faced 
the beautiful empress of Theros. 
Strange lights danced before Tommy's 
eyes, and he found it difficult to keep 
the pair in focus. But he was sure 
of one thing — his pal was unharmed. 
Then the two figures seemed to merge 
into one and he blinked his eyes rap- 
idly to clear his failing vision. By 
George, they were in each other's arms I 
Funny world — above or below — it 
didn't seem to make any difference. 
But it was a tough break for Frank- 
morganatic marriage and all that No 
chance — well — 

Tommy succumbed to his overpow- 
ering drowsiness. 

THE awakening was slow, but not 
painful. Rather there was a feel- 
ing of utter contentment, of joy at be- 
ing alive. A delicious languor pervad- 
ed Tommy's being as he turned hii 
head on a snow white silken pillow 
and stared at the figure of the white- 
capped nurse who was fussing with the 
bottles and instruments that lay on an 
enameled table beside the bed. Mem- 
ory came to him immediately. He felt 
remarkably well and refreshed. Ez- 
perimentally he moved his left shoul- 
der. There was absolutely no pain and 
it felt perfectly normal. He sat erect 
in his surprise and felt the shoulder 
with his right hand. There was no 
bandage, no wound. Had he dreamed 
of the hammer blow of that forty-five 
caliber bullet? 

His nurse, observing that her patient 
had recovered consciousness, broke 
forth in a torrent of unintelligible 
Theronian, then rushed from the room. 

He was still examining his unscarred 
shoulder in wonder when the j nurse 
returned, with Frank Rowley at her 
heels. Frank laughed at the expression 
of his friend's face. 



SILVER DOME 



207 



"What's wrong, old timer?" he asked. 

"Why — I — thought that fool of a 
Iceland had shot me in the shoulder," 
itammered Tommy, "but I guess I 
dreamed it. Where are we? Still in 
Theros ?" 

"We are." Frank sobered instantly, 
and Tommy noted, with alarm that his 
usually cheerful features were hag- 
gard and drawn and his eyes hollow 
from loss? of sleep. "And you didn't 
dream that Leland shot you. That 
■houlder of yours was mangled and 
torn beyond belief. He was using soft 
nosed bullets, the hell-hound I" 

'Then how — ?." 

TOMMY, these Theronians are 
marvelous. We rushed you to 
this hospital and a half-dozen doctors 
Darted working on you at once. They 
repaired the shattered bones by an in- 
stantaneous grafting process, tied the 
levered veins and arteries and closed 
the gaping wound by filling it with a 
plastic compound and drawing the 
edges together with clamps. You were 
anaesthetized and some ray machine 
was used to heal the shoulder. This, 
required but ten hours and they now 
ny that your arm is as good as ever. 
How does it feel ?" 

"Perfectly natural. In fact I feel 
better than I have in a month." Tom- 
my observed that the nurse had left 
the room and he jumped from his bed 
md capered like a school boy. 

This drew no sign of merriment 
from Frank, and Tommy scrutinized 
aim once more in consternation. "And 
you," he said, "what is wrong with 
you?" 

"Don't worry about me," replied 
Frank impatiently. Then, irrelevantly, 
be said "Leland's dead." 

"Should be. I knew we shouldn't 
bare started out to help him. But, 
Frank, I'm concerned about you. You 
look badly." Tommy was getting into 
bb) clothes as he spoke. 

"Forget it, Tommy. You've been 
deeping for two days, you know — part 
* the cure — and I haven't had much 



rest during that time. That is all." 

"It's that ^PUnestra woman," Tommy 
accused him. " < 

"Well, perhaps. But I'll get over it, 
I suppose. * Tommy, I love her. But 
there's no chance for me. Haven't seen 
her since the row in the palace. Her 
council surrounds her continually, and 
I have been advised to-day that we 
are to be returned as quickly as you 
are up and around. That means im- 
mediately now." 

"Good. The sooner the better. And 
you just forget about this queen as 
soon as you are able. She's a peach, 
of course, but not for you. There's 
lots more back in little old New York." 
But Frank had no reply to this Bally. 

THERE came a knock at the door 
and Tommy called, 'Xome in." 
"I see you have fully; 'recovered," 
said the smiling Theronian who en- 
tered at the bidding, "and we are over- 
joyed to know this. You have the grati- 
tude of the entire realm for your part 
in the saving of our empress from the 
bullets of the madman." , 
"I?" ' 
"Yes. You and your friend. And 
now, may I ask, are you ready to re- 
turn to your own land?" 

Tommy stared. "Sure thing," he 
said, "or rather, I will be in a few 
minutes." 

"Thank you. We shall await you in 
the transmitting room." The Thero- 
nian bowed* and was gone. 

"Well, I like that," said Tommy. 
"He hands me an undeserved compli- 
ment and then. asks how soon we can 
beat it. A 'here's your hat, what's your 
hurry* sort of thing." 

"It's me they're anxious to be rid 
of," remarked Frank, shrugging his 
broad shoulders, "and perhaps it is just 
as well." 

"You bet it is I" agreed Tommy en- 
thusiastically, "and I'm in favor of 
making it good and snappy." He com- 
pleted his toilet as rapioly as possible 
and then turned to face the down- 
hearted Frank. 



208 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



"How do we go? The way we 
came?" he asked. 

M TVfOp Tommy. They have closed 
AN off the shaft that led from the 
cavern of the silver dome. They are 
taking no more chances. It seems that 
the shaft down which we floated was 
constructed by the Theroniang; not by 
Leland. They had used it and the 
gravity disc to transport casual visitors 
to the surface, who occasionally mixed 
with our people in order to learn the 
languages of the upper world and to 
actually toucfi and handle the things 
they were otherwise able to see only 
through the medium of Silver Dome 
and the crystal spheres. Further visits 
to the surface are now forbidden, and 
we are to be returned by a remarkable 
process of beam transmission of our 
disintegrated bodies." 
"Disintegrated ?" 

"Yes. It seems they have learned to 
dissociate the atoms of which the hu- 
man body is composed and to transmit 
them to any desired point over a beam 
of etheric vibrations, then to^reassem- 
ble them in the original living condi- 
tion." > 

"What? You mean to say we are to 
be shot to the surface through The in- 
tervening rock and earth? Disinte- 
grated and reintegrated? And we'll 
not even be bent, let alone busted?" 

THIS time he was rewarded by a 
laugh. "That's right. And I have 
have gone through the calculations 
with one of the Theronian engineers 
and can find no flaw in the scheme. 
We're safe in their hands." ' 

"If you Bay so, Frank, it's okay with 
me. Let's got" 

Reluctantly his friend lifted his ath- 
letic bulk from the chair. In silence 
he led the way to the transmitting 
room of the Theronian scientists. 

Here they were greeted by two 
savants with whom Frank was already 
acquainted, Clarux and Rhonus by 
name. A bewildering array of com- 
plex mechanisms was crowded into the 



high-ceilinged chamber and, prominent 
among them, was one of the crystal 
spheres, this one of somewhat smaller 
size than the one in thficalate of 
Phaestra. - 

"Where do you wish to arrive?" 
asked Clarux. 

"As near to my automobile as possi- 
ble," replied Frank, taking sudden in- 
terest in the proceedings. "It is parked 
in the lane between Leland's house and 
the road." 

Tommy looked quickly in his direc- 
tion, encouraged by the apparent 
change in his attitude. The scientists 
proceeded to energize the crystal 
sphere. They were bent upon speed- 
ing the parting guests. Their beloved 
empress was to be saved from her own 
emotions. 

Quick adjustments of the -controls 
resulted in the locating of Frank's car, 
which was still buried to its axles in 
snow. The scene included Leland's 
house, or rather its site, for it appeared 
to have been utterly demolished by 
some explosion within. 

TOMMY raised questioning eye- 
brows. 

"It was necessary," explained Rhon- 
us, to destroy the house in obliterat- 
ing all traces of 'our former means of 
egress. It has been commanded that 
you two be returned safely, and we are 
authorized to trust implicitly in your 
future silence regarding the existence 
of Theros. This is satisfactory, I pre- 
sume ?" 

Both Tommy and Frank nodded 
agreement. 

"Are you ready, gentlemen?" asked 
Clarux, who was adjusting a mechanism 
that resembled a huge radio transmit- 
ter. Its twelve giant vacuum tubes 
glowed into life as he spoke. 

"We are," chimed the two visitors. 

They were requested to. step to a 
small circular platform that was raised 
about a foot from the floor by means 
of insulating legs. Above the table 
there was an inverted bowl of silver in 
the shape of a large parabolic reflector. 



SILVER DOME 



209 



"There will be no alarming sensa- 
tions," averred Clarux. "When I close 
the switch the disintegrating energy 
from the reflector above will bathe 
your bodies for a moment in visible 
rays of a deep purple hue. You may 
possibly experience a slight momentary 
feeling of nausea. Then — presto! — 
you have arrived." 

"Shoot I" growled Frank from his 
position on the stand. 

Clarux pulled the switch and there 
was a murmur as of distant thunder. 
Tommy blinked involuntarily in the 
brilliant purple glow that surrounded 
him Then all was confusion in the 
transmitting room. Somebody had 
rushed through the open door shout- 
ing, 'Frank I Frank I" It was the em- 
press Phaestra. 

IN a growing daze Tommy saw her 
dash to the platform, seize Frank 
in a clutch of desperation. There was 
a violent wrench as if' some monster 
were twisting at his vitals. He closed 
his eyes against the blinding light, 
then realized that utter silence had 
followed the erstwhile confusion. He 
tat in Frank's car — alone. 

The journey was over, and Frank 
was left behind. With awful finality 
it came to him that there was nothing 
he could do. It was clear that Phaestra 
had wanted his pal, needed him— come 
for him. From the fact that Frank 
remained behind it was evident that 
she had succeeded in retaining him. 
A sickening fear came to Tommy that 
■be had been too late ; that Frank's 
body was already partly disintegrated 



and that he might have paid the price 
of her love with his life. But a little 
reflection convinced him that if this 
were the case a portion of/his friend's 
body would have reached the .intended 
destination. Then, unexplainably, he 
received a mental message that all was 
well. 

CONSIDERABLY heartened, he 
pressed the starter button and the 
cold motor of Frank's coupe turned 
over slowly, protestingly. Finally it 
coughed a few times, and, after con- 
siderable coaxing by use of the choke, 
ran smoothly. He proceeded to back 
carefully through the drifts toward the 
road, casting an occasional regretful 
glance in the direction of the demol- 
ished mansion. 

He would have , some explaining to 
dp when he returned to New York. 
Perhaps — yes, almost certainly, he 
would be questioned by the police re- 
garding Frank's disappearance. But ' 
he would never betray the trust of 
Phaestra. Who indeed would believe 
him if he told the story? Instead, he 
would concoct a weird fabrication re- 
garding an explosion in Leland's lab- 
oratory, of his own miraculous escape 
They could not hold him, could not 
accuse him of murder without produc- 
ing a body — the corpus delicti, or 
whatever they called it. 

Anyway, Frank was content. So 
was Phaestra. 

Tommy swung the heavy car into 
the road and turned toward New York, 
alone and lonely — but somehow happy ; 
happy for his friend. 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 

Appears on Newsstands 
THE FIRST THURSDAY IN EACH MONTH 



Earth, the Marauder 

PART TWO OF A THREE* ART NOVEL 

\fy Arthur J. Bark* 



WHAT HAS GONE BEFORE 

THE Earth was dying. Ever since 
Sa»ka the First, king of scien- 
tists, had given mankind the Secret of 
Life, which prolonged life indefinitely, 
the Earthlings 
had multiplied 
beyond all count, 
and been forced 
to burrow deep 
into the ground 



Deep in the gnome-infested tunnel* of the 
Moon, Sarka and Jaska are brought to 
Luar, the radiant goddeaa against whose 
minions the maraueSng^Earth had struck 
in rain. 



and high into the air in the desperate 
search for the mere room in which to 
live. There was much civil war. The 
plight of the children of men was des- 
perate. Something had to be done. 

Then Sarka the 
Third called the 
Spokesmen of the 
Gens of Earth 
around him, and 
proposed to them 



> new scheme which had come to him 
in his laboratory atop the Himalayas. 
He would Bwing the Earth from its or- 
bit! — send it careening through space 
toward tlie Moon I — there to destroy 
its inhabitants and supplant them with 
I colony of Earthlings! And then 
they would surge on to Mars I 

One by one the twelve Spokesmen, 
each the head and representative of the 
teeming trillions comprising his Gens, 
weeded. Even Dalis, the jealous rival 
of Sarka, finally gave his sulky con- 
wit. 



So, under Sarka's commands, the 
Earth's hordes were mobilized ; and in 
rune with the Master Beryl in Sarka's 
laboratory ail the Beryls of the Earth 
vibrated, freeing the Earth from her 
age-old orbit and swinging her out t» 
wards the Moon, > 

The Gens of Dalis — the trillions of 
people who swore allegiance to him — 
would lead the attack on the Moon. 
When within fifty thousand miles, 
they darted out, clad only in their 
tight green clothing and the helmets 
that held the anti-gravitational ovoids, 
1 



212 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



which neutralized gravity for them and 
enabled them to instantly fly where 
they willed. Their only weapons were 
hand atom-disintegrators. And out 
from the Moon cams mysterious air- 
cars, with long clutching tentacles — 
the weapons of the Moon's minions I 
The war of the worlds was begun I 

Yet Dalis, leader of the Gens that 
now engaged the Moon's aircars, was 
still in the laboratory with Sarka. For 
Dalis' treacherous mind coveted con- 
trol of the Earth, and though the urge 
to lead his Gens into battle was tre- 
mendous, still he stayed, watching 
Sarka closely, waiting for the moment 
when he could-trick Sarka and assume 
control. 

And at the head of the Gens of Dalis 
was a woman, Jaska, whom Sarka 
loved. -The Moon's aircars swept away 
the Gens of Dallas, and out from 
Earth poured the Gens of Cleric, who 
was sjaska'a father. The newcomers 
fougUt desperately to save Jaska from 
the deadly clutches of the aircars. 

Dalis could stand it' no : longer. He 
sped forth from the laboratory to re- 
organize his beaten Gens. Jaska flew 
for home; but behind her a single air- 
car, splashed with* crimson, reached 
forth its tentacles to clutch her — and 
Sarka groaned with the agony of his 
impotence to help the woman he loved. 

CHAPTER XI 
Escape — and Dalis" Laughter 

BUT Saika was not to be- so 
easily beaten. There, still re- 
mained an infinite number of 
possible changes of speed by 
manipulation of ovidum by vibration 
set up by the Beryls, without which 
this flight from the beginning would 
have been impossible. But for two 
hours, while the white robed men of 
Cleric fought against the car of the 
crimson splashes to prevent the cap- 
ture of the daughter of their Spokes- 
man — and died by hundreds in the grip . 
of those gTim tentacles — Sarka was 
forced to labor with the Beryls until 



persjti ration bathed his whole body 
and his heart was heavy as he foresaw 
failure. And failure meant death or 
worse for Jaska. 

But at the end of two hours, while 
the men of Cleric fought like men in- 
spired against the aircar of the crim- 
son slashes, a cessation in the outward 
speed of the earth could be noted. At 
the end of three ' hours the body of 
Jaska, all this time fighting manfully 
to attain to landing place on the Earth, 
was at last bulking larger; but the 
tentacles of the aircar were groping 
after her, reaching for her, striving to 
catch and clasp her to/her death. 

-The twq Sarkas watched and prayed 
while the might of the Beryls, travel- 
ing at top speed, fought against , the 
force of whatever was "used by the 
Moon-men to compel the Moon to 
withdraw. Still the men of Cleric 
fought ' that single caf , and died by 
hundreds in the fighting. White robed 
figures - which became shriveled and 
black in the grip of those tentacles. 

COUNTLESS of the men of Cleric 
deliberately cast themselves 
against those tentacles, throwing their 
lives away to give Jaska more leeway 
in her race for life. 

"Will she make it, father?" queried 
Sarka in a whisper. 

"If the courag* and) loyalty of her 
people stand for anything, she will 
make it," he replied. 

On she came at top speed, and 
now through the micro-telescopes the 
Sarkas could see the agony of effort on 
her face, even through the smooth 
mask used by the people oi Earth for 
flight in space where there was no at- 
mosphere. Courage was there, and the 
will of never-say-die ; and Jaska, more- 
over, was coming back to the man she 
loved. In a nebulous sort of way 
Sarka realized this, for though these 
two had not mated there was a reson- 
ant inner sympathy between them 
which had rounded into an emotion of 
overpowering force since Jaska had 
proved to Sarka that she was to be 



EARTH, THE MARAUDER 



213 



trusted — that he had been something 
less than a faithful lover when he had 
mistrusted her, ever so little. 

Closer now and closer, and at last 
the aircar of the crimson splashes was 
drawing away, losing in the race for 
life. It was falling back, as though 
minded to turn about and race back 
for the Moon, now a ball in the sky, 
far away, the outlines of its craters 
growing dim and misty with distance. 
Now the men of Cleric, those who re- 
mained, were breaking contact with the 
aircar, and forming a .valiant rear- 
guard for the retreat of Jaska. 

THROUGHOUT the Earth, as the 
Beryls fought with ever increas- 
ing speed to lower the rate of the 
earth's outward race from the Moon, 
was such a trembling, such a vibration 
induced by conflicting, alien forces as 
there had not been even in that moment 
when back there In its orbit, the Earth 
could have either been kept within its 
orbit, or hurled outward into space at 
the touch of a finger. 

Now Jaska, surrounded by her 
father's men, was almost close enough 
to touch the Earth. 

She made it, weak and weary, and 
rested for a moment while her father's 
men steadied her. Then, thrusting 
them aside, with gestures bidding them 
return to their Gens, she lifted into the 
air again, and fled straight for the la- 
boratory of Sarka. 

She entered tiredly through the exit 
dome, and all but collapsed into the 
arms of Sarka. Gently he removed her 
helmet of the anti-gravitational ovoid, 
noting as she leaned against him the 
tumultous beating of her heart. Then 
her gentle eyes opened and she whis- 
pered to Sarka. 
"You trust me now?" 
For answer he bent and kissed her 
softly on the lips — for the kiss, from 
the far distant time when the first baby 
was kissed by the first mother, had 
been the favored caress of mankind. 
Her face was transfigured as she read 
Us answer in his eyps, and the touch 



of his lips. Then, remembering, fear 
flashed across her face. She straight- 
ened, and grasping Sarka by the hand, 
hurried with him into the observatory. 

SHE took the seat in which Dalis 
had sat before he had gone out to 
the command of his Gens, studied for 
many minutes the battle in space be- 
tween the two alien worlds. 

"Dalis is winning," said the Elder 
Sarka quietly, "apparently I" 

"The qualification is a just one," said 
Jaska softly. " 'Apparently,' indeed I 
You will note now that, though men 
of the Gens of Dalis swarm all about 
the aircars, and even (Clamber atop 
them, no more are dying in the grasp 
of those tentacles? Is Dalis arrang- 
ing a treacherous truce with the Moon- 
men?" \ 

"I have been wonaering about that," 
said Sarka softly, "for it is my belief 
that nothing not conducive to hid own 
selfish interests would have ' forced 
Dalis to leave this place and take com-, 
mand of his Gens, as I had first or- 
dered, unless he had schemes planned 
of which father and I could know 
nothing. Now that I think of it, Jaska, 
how did Dalis know our secret code of 
fingers?" 

Jaska started, and turned a blanched 
face to Sarka. 

"Did he know?" she cried. "Did he? 
If he did that proves a suspicion that I 
have entertained since the first moment 
when Dalis swept into the fight, and I 
sensed that alien signals were being 
flashed back and forth 1" 

"Flashed back arid forth I" ejaculated 
Sarka. "How do you mean? That 
Dalis was somehow able to communi- 
cate with the Moon-men in their own 
language, or through their own sig- 
nals?" • y 

I THY not? He knew our secret 
VV code, did he not? I never 
gave it to him, and I know that you 
did not. No, Dalis has some means, 
never discovered or suspected by you 
Sarkas, whereby he Is able to under- 



214 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



stand alien tongues and alien sign 
manuals I" 

"That means," said Sarka the Elder 
in a dead voice, "that by forcing Dalis 
to go out at the head of his Gens. . . ." 

"We have," interrupted Sarka the 
Younger, /'placed a new weapon of 
treason in his- hands I Dalis, at the 
vety moment of contact with the air- 
cark loaded with Moon-men, broke in 
on (heir signals — they must have had 
some means of signalling one another 
— and communicated with them in 
their own way! Do you think it pos- 
sible that, with all his Gens, he may 
go over to the Moon-men, form an al- 
liance with them?" 

For many moments no one dared to 
answer the question; yet, from what 
the Sarkas knew of him, it was not 
impossible at all. For Dalis was the 
master egotist always, and never over- 
looked opportunity to gain something 
for himself. 

It was Jaska who broke the silence. 

."Did you note carefully," she said, 
"those sircars which were partially 
destroyed by our ray directors and 
atom-disintegrators?" ' 

The Sarkas nodded. 

"Did you note that no men, {ormed 
like our own,^no creitures of any sort 
whatever, fell from the cars?" 

AGAIN the awesome silence, and 
the keen' brains of the Sarkas 
wrestled with this vague hint of the 
uncanny. 

"You mean, Jaska . . . you mean. . . ." 

"That the occupants of aircars are 
part of the cars, but — Beings of the 
Moon) That they are either metal 
monsters endowed with brains or tiny 
creatures irrevocably attached to the 
cars themselves I" 

"But how," said Sarka at last, "are 
we to be sure? I can understand what 
Dalis might do if the Moon-men 
(granted his wish for an alliance with 
'them. It is easy to to understand why 
his Gens would follow his lead, for 
with the Moon forced outward from 
the Earth faster than his Gens could 



retreat, there is but one direction for 
his. Gens to go— toward the Moon I 
They would go to the Moon as.captivei' 
and trust the keen brain of Dalis to 
gain the mastery, sooner or later, over 
the Moon-men. And then. . . ." 

"And then — ?" repeated Sarka the 
Elder. 

"Then, Dalis has already been in- 
spired by the speed with which those 
aircars travel! You will remember 
that he did not take kindly to leaving 
the Earth and making his abode on 
some other planet I But why could he 
not do so, combine forces and knowl- 
edge with the people of that planet — 
and then return to Earth in alliance 
with them? — after we have depleted 
our forces by placing a large portion 
of our people on Mars and Venus and 
Satum?" 

"Sarka, my son," said Sarka's father, 
"before we continue with our flight to 
Mars, we must know the truth 1 We 
must somehow learn exactly what is 
going on on the Moon! If you could 
reach the Moon, alone, undetected, and 
bring back a report. . . ." 

FOR a moment he left it there, and 
the faces of all three were gray 
with worry and abysmal fear. 

"I can't go bodily, father," said 
Sarka at last, "but you remember my 
secret exit dome, to the right of the 
observatory, from which I have never 
yet dared exit from this place for fear 
that it might cost me my life?" 

Sarka the Elder nodded, while Jaska 
looked puzzled. Another evidence of 
the fact that Sarka had not always 
trusted her, for she knew nothing of 
a secret exit dome. Sarka's eyes, as 
he ldbked at Jaska, mutely asked her 
forgiveness, which she gave him with 
her smile. 

"I remember, son, and now? . . ." 
"Surely it is worth risking one's life 
to know what new menace looms over 
the children of men!" 

"What is the use" of this secret 
dome?" asked Jaska softly. 
"It is merely an elaboration of the 



EARTH, THE MARAUDER 



215 



regular exit dome, combined with cer- 
tain phases of our atom-distintegra- 
tors, and the principle involved in the 
anti-gravitational ovoids. I step into 
the secret exit dome, garbed for flight 
Outside, and will myself to appear 
bodily in a certain 'place. It is instan- 
taneous. I step into the dome, for ex- 
ample, and will myself to appear whole 
upon the Moon, and there I will ap- 
pear I" 

"You mean that during the period of 
transposition you are invisible?" 

"Yes, invisible because non-existent, 
except for the essentiaf elements of 
me, broken down by the secret exit 
dome, reassembled at the place willed 
in their entirety I I can't fly there, for 
a million eyes would see me approach 1 
I must go in secret, as a spy, and wear- 
ing the clothing and insignia of a mem- 
ber of the Gens of Dalis I" 

Silence in the observatory for a 
brief breathing space, and then Jaska 
spoke that speech out of the books of 
antiquity, which remains the classic 
expression of loyalty. 

"Whithersoever thou goest, there 
will I go also I" 

From the laboratory came a sudden 
burst of laughter, the laughter which 
all three recognized as the laughter of 
Dalis; but when they entered the 
place of the Revolving Beryl, there 
was no one there — and a feeling of 
dread, all encompassing, held them 
thralled for the space of several heart- 
beats. Dalis, they knew, was thou- 
sands of miles away, upon the Moon; 
yet here in the place of the Master 
Beryl they all three had ]ust heard his 
sardonic laughter! 

CHAPTER XII 
Ashes of the Moon 

THROUGH the micro-telescopes 
it was possible to see what had 
happened after Dalis had assumed 
command of the Gens of Dalis. For 
even though the Moon, in spite of the 
■peed of the Beryls, was being forced 
further and further from the Earth, 



the eyes of' the micro-telescopes picked 
out and enlarged details to such an 
extent that the battle seemed to be 
transpiring under the eyes of the be- 
holders. 

A terrific jumble, in which Earth- 
lings and aircars were all tumbled to- 
gether in mad chaos, a great mass of 
writhing, green-garbed figures. In- 
finite in number — in the midst of which 
were the gigantic aircars, like monster 
beetles being beset by armies upon 
armies of ants. 

Then, by the time Jaska had seated 
herself in the observatory atop the 
Himalayas, to watch what developed, 
the battle seemed to bejover, and the 
Moon-men had won. For' the huge cars 
swung around between the myriads of' 
the Gens of Dalis, and seemed to be 
herding them toward the Moon, as 
though they were prisoners. 

Telepathically, Sarka and his father 
had been able to catch some hint; of 
the thoughts of the Earthlinga in the 
battle, and these thoughts had been 
tinged with doubt, fear and horror, so 
that even thus to receive them, by men- 
tal telepathy, was to feel the searing 
heat of their fear. 

NOW, in the instant when the 
battle in Space seemed to be 
over and the Gens of Dalis were pris- 
oners, the thought waves were no more, 
and a brooding silence took their 
place. Dalis; the Sarkaa knew, pos- 
sessed the power to mask his thoughts, 
for it was a power possessed in com- 
mon by all the scientists of Earth. 
But the common people of his Gens 
did not posses that power. However, 
for the moment Sarka had forgotten 
an all important something : that, when 
people were outside the roof of the 
world, they were subservient to the 
will of a common commander to whdBi 
they had sworn allegiance. 

If, therefore, Dalis could mask his 
own thoughts from the brains of men, 
he could also mask the thoughts of the 
people of his Gens, merely by willing 
it I So Sarka and his father and Jaska 



216 



r 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



could not know whether the Genu of 
Dalit had gone over in a body with 
him, in a truce with the people of the 
Moon, or whether they were dual pris? 
oners^— of Dalis and of the Moon-men I 

More than ever was it necessary for 
someone to somehow reach the Moon 
and make a thorough investigation, 
discover just what Dalis was doing, 
what mischief he was hatching. 

The secret exit dome seemed to be 
the answer. 

"You can' manage without me, 
father?" asked Sarka. 

THE elder Sarjta nodded. 
"Of the other Spokesmen of 
Earth, went on Sarka, "I trust Cerd 
the most. Might I suggest that you 
bring him here, trust him in all details, 
and let him take my place wherever 
possible? Or, better still, keep Jaska 
here with jk>uI I . I may not be 
able to return! I'll try to find a way, 
but — we can always communicate tele- 
pathically. Jaska. ..." . 

"Jaska," said that young lady grim- 
ly, "goes with Sarka wherever Sarka 
goesr 

"But it may mean death! We" can 
only guess at the cunrjng of the Moon 
dwellers! They may have been in se- 
cret communication with Dalis for cen- 
turies I Dalis, who somghow discovered 
our secret finger code, may also know 
of the secret exit dome, and the prin* 
ciple upon which it operates! If he 
does, he may know how to combat it I 
Perhaps that explains his laughter! 
Perhaps he heard and understood every 
word we spoke, hears and understands 
every word we speak now I Who 
knows? He may wait until I have 
passed through *the secret exit dome, 
and then make it impossible for me to 
be reincarnated on the Moon — or else- 
where!" 

"No matter," said Jaska softly, 
"wherever Sarka goes, there goes 
Jaska I It is useless to attempt to dis- 
suade me, and it is time you learned 
that!" 

In spite of himself Sarka smiled, and 



his father met his smile with a quiz- 
zical one of his own. Both men had 
the same thought. 

"The eternal woman I" said Sarka the 
Elder. "No man has ever understood 
her — no man ever will! And all men 
are ruled by herl" 

Sarka shrugged, and Jaska spoke 
again. 

"Don't you think it is time we tried 
this new experiment?" 

SARKA nodded, and his face was 
suddenly alight with the excite- 
ment which burned within him. 

"First," he said, "we need accoutre- 
ments of the Gens of Dalis for two 
people t" 
Jaska smiled. 

"For seeing that we might have need 
of such equipment, I had several com- 
plete outfits sent here when I took 
charge of the Gens of Dalis as its 
Spokesman I" 

Two minutes later, arrayed in the 
green clothing of the House of Dalis, 
swathed in it from neck to toe, wear- 
ing their belts and the masks which 
were necessary to life in space where 
there was no atmosphere, the whole 
topped by the gleaming helmets* whose 
skull-pans held the infinitesimally 
small anti-gravitational ovoids, Jaska 
and Sarka entered' the secret exit 
dome, side by side. ' 

On the breast and back of each 
showed the yellow stars of the Gens 
of Dalis. There was no hiding their 
identity otherwise, and if any of the 
Gens saw them, both would be imme- 
diately recognized — for Jaska had com- 
manded the Gens, and Sarka was the 
world's greatest scientist;, known to 
every human being. But they planned ' 
on carrying out their investigations by 
stealth.- 

"Father," said Sarka, "when the in- 
ner door is closed upon us, you have 
but to press the button to the right 
of the door. Press it when the light 
beside it glows red, which will indi- 
cate that we have willed ourselves to 
go to a certain destination!" 



EARTH, THE MARAUDER 



217 



THE inner door closed upon Sarka 
and Jaaka, and, hand in hand, side 
by side, their bodies glowing with- 
knowledge of warm, sympathetic con- 
tact, they waited for a miracle which 
bad never before been attempted. * 

"Are you afraid, beloved?" queried 
Sarka. 

"When I am with you," she said 
■oftly, "I have no fear." 

"Then face the outer door, and will 
to go wherever I will to take you I" 

Side by Bide, hand in hand .still, they 
faced the outer door, and Sarka 
willed: 

' "Let us appear together in a deserted 
$pot, within sight but unseen, of the 
Moon crater from which those aircars 
were sent against us I" 

A sudden blur, a cessation of 1 all 
knowledge, and then. . > . 

Sarka and Jaaka stood side by side 
in a desolate expanse surrounded by 
bleak and appalling mountains of gro- 
tesque shape, in a light that was 
weirdly, awesomely blue. Their feet 
were invisible, deeply rooted in some 
■oft, fine material which looked like 
mow. 

After a swift glance around to see 
if anything lived or moved in this aw- 
ful desolation, Sarka stooped and 
dipped up some of the fine stuff with 
' bis fingers, touched it to his lips. 

THE material seemed to be;fine blue 
ashes, and on his tongue it had a 
loapy savor. He peered at Jaska, 
whose eyes were glowing with excite- 
men, whose lips were parted with an- 
ticipation, and instantly he opened a 
mental conversation with her. v_ 

"We must speak with each other 
tclepathically, but do not speak with 
at until I have explained to you how 
to mask your thoughts from all per-/ 
una save the one with whom you holey 
converse 1 First, I love you I SecondJ, 
let us see if, searching the sky, we can 
find the Earth I" ' 

In a few brief, highly technical 
words, Sarka told his beloved how to 
talk with him in the manner which he 



had never before explained to her. 
They had used telepathy before, count- 
less times, but they had not cared who 
heard — while now secrecy in all things 
was the prime essential for success, 
even for life. 

When he had told her, and she re- 
plied, "I understand perfectly, and it 
seems quite easy," they turned and 
surveyed the heavens, out of which, 
by this new miracle of the secret exit 
dome, they had dropped to the face of 
the Moon. 

Away across the space between 
worlds, its transfiguration plainly 
visible to the two, they could, make out 
and identify the world from which 
they had come. Save that they knew 
themselves standing on the Moon, they 
would have thought, as far as appear- 
ances went, that the place where they 
had come was the Moon, many times 
enlarged. It seemed incredible that, 
they had come so far in the twinkling 
of an eye; but that they had was 
proved by the fact of their physical 
presence. 

"Look, Jaska I" said Sarka suddenly. 
"See how our Earth glows, as though 
it were afire inside I" 

THEY stared at the great circular 
yellowish flame that he pointed 
out, and Sarka, always the scientist 
whose science was one of exactness, 
tried to estimate just where, on the 
Earth's surface, the glow was. 

"Jaska," he said again, "that glow 
comes out of the heart of the Gens 
area which Dalis ruled I And no one 
lives there, since Dalis' Gens flew out 
to do battle I That's why we did not 
know of it before we left ! That glow, 
somehow, beloved, is the cause of the 
outward-from-the-Earth jpurney of the 
Moon 1 First we must locate the Moon- 
source of the glow, and render it in- 
capable of further forcing itself away I 
For do you realize that, unless we do 
so, we will never again see home?" 

Jaaka said nothing, but her eyes were 
troubled for a .moment. Then she 
smiled again. 



218 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



"What care I if I become a prisoner 
on the Moon, if you are with me?" 

Sarka was just now realizing the 
wonder of this raven-haired woman 
whom, knowing her for half a century 
as he had, he had just known so little 
after all. 

"If we seem in danger of discovery, 
Jaska," he said to her, "drop down in- 
stantly into the ashes, for if we are 
discovered by Dalis. . . ." 

He left it there and, with a deep in- 
take of breath, started away for the 
nearest and highest hill. They desired 
to walk, yet found walking almost im- 
possible, as they could not keep their 
feet on the ground save by the exercise 
of a really incredible effort of will. 
So, despairing of keeping their* feet in 
contact with the ashes, they flew just 
above them, heading for the nearest 
weird-looking ridge. 

IN the strange light, which was 
oddly like moonlight in some 
painted desert of Earth, shapes were 
distorted and somehow' menacing, 
colors were raw, almost bleeding — and 
distances that seemed, but a ste$ re- 
quired hours to traverse. 

Ever and anon, as they traveled they 
looked back up at the Earth which was 
their home. It still was visible, 
though plainly smaller with distance, 
and for a time Sarka's heart misgave 
him; bat he only clasped tigher the 
hand of Jaska and moved on. 

They were just at the base of the 
first hill, which had now become a 
mountain of gloomy, forbidding aspect, 
when the first sound they had heard on 
the moon came to them. A sound that 
was a commingling of the laughter of 
Dalis, the barking of jackals of the 
olden times,' the humming of. a million 
Beryls revolving at top speed, and a 
■trident buzzing such as neither had 
ever heard. 

Had they been discovered ? Was the 
sound a warning? They could not 
know; but as they stared at the crest 
of the hill, two long, snaky, waving 
thingp appeared above the crest, un- 



dulating, waving to and fro, as though 
questing for something. They crouched 
low in the white ashes at the base of, 
the mountain, and waited, scarcely 
breathing. s. 

CHAPTER XIII 
The Lunar Cubes 

FOR a long* time Sarka and Jaska 
remained still, like sentinels, lis- 
tening to the strange discord which 
seemed to emanate from behind the 
hill at whose base they crouched. 

"Look!" said Sarka at last. 'There 
against the sky, beyond and between 
those two waving tentacles I Note 
that column of light, scarcely lighter 
than the light which surrounds it 
everywhere? It looks like a massive 
column just lighter than everything 
around it, yet so little lighter that you 
have to watch closely to see it at all?" 

Jaska stared for all of a minute, be- 
fore she thought back her answer. 
"I see it," she said. 
"Note now whether it goes, as it 
reaches outward into Space I" 

Jaska followed the mighty height of 
the thing, outward and outward, and 
then gasped. 

''"Sarka," she said, "its end touches 
the Earth in the ve'ry heart of that 
strange glow we spoke about I" 

"Exactly I" And people of Earth 
know nothing about it, because it is 
invisible to them I It is only from 
Outside that the glow it makes against 
the Earth is visible I If we can divert 
its direction, or render it useless in any 
way, the Moon will no longer be thrust 
away by its force 1" 

A pause of indecision, then Sarka 
thought again : 

"Let us go, Jaska I Keep behind me, 
right on my heels I" 

Slowly, fighting against something 
that seemed determined to pull, or 
hurl, them outward from the surface 
of the Moon with each forward move- 
ment they made, they essayed the side 
of the hill, pausing a.t the end of what 
seemed like hours in a sort of hollow 



EARTH, THE MARAUDER 



219 



just large enough to mask their bodies 
and stared over its edge into one of 
the craters of the Moon. Out of the 
depths ofHbat crater came the discor- 
dant sounds, which now were almost 
deafening, and out of that crater 
too came the almost invisibly-bluish 
column whose outer tip touched the 
Earth. 

RIGHT before them, so close that 
they all but rested in its shadow, 
was one of those monster aircars, its 
tentacles moving .to and fro as though 
wafted into motion by some vagrant 
breeze. But since neither Sarka nor 
Jaska could feel the breeze, Sarka 
knew that it was life which caused the 
waving motion of those tentacles- of 
terror. 

"Note," he said to Jaska, "that there 
it a tiny trapdoor in the bottom of the 
air car, and that the thing "rests on a 
half-dozen of those tentacles I" 

"I see," came Jaaka's reply. 

Jaska went on : 

"Note the gleaming thing on the 
ground, right below the aircar? I 
wonder what it is?" 

They studied the thing there, which 
teemed to be a huge jewel of some sort 
that glittered balefully in the eery 
light of the Moon. It was, perhaps, 
twice the size of an average man's 
torso, and was almost exactly cubical 
in shape. As Sarka studied the thing, 
he sensed that feeling flowed out of it 
—that the cube, whatever it was, was 
alive I 

He tore his glance away from it, and 
realized that he accomplished the feat 
with a distinct effort of will — as 
though the cube had willed to hold his 
gaze, knew he was there. His eyes, 
peering around the inner slope of the 
crater — which dipped over, some hun- 
dreds of feet down, and plunged down- 
ward to some unknown depth — noted a 
broad, flat stone, off to his right; and 
around the rim of the crater he counted 
I full hundred of the aircars, all with 
their tentacles waving as if they be- 
longed to sentient creatures. 



BELOW each one, as he studied 
them and strained his eyes to 
make out details, he caught the baleful 
gleam of other cubes like the first he 
had seen. The aircars, it seemed, 
were either sentinels, at the lip of the 
crater, or were the dwelling places of 
sentinels — and the cubes were those 
sentinels I / 

It seemed absurd, but it came to 
Sarka in a flash that that was the an- 
swer, and his eyes camf back to the 
first cube, because it was nearer and 
more easy to study. "\ 

"I will not be swayed by .the will of 
the thing," Sarka told himself. "Nor 
will I allow it to analyze me I Jaska, 
do you do likewise I" 

Beside him, Jaska shivered. He 
turned to look at her. Her face was 
coldly white, and her eyes were big 
with terror and fascination as she) 
stared at that first cube, resting so 
balefully there under the first aircar. 

He shook her, and she seemed to 
bring her eyes to his with a terrific, 
will-straining effort. 

"Look at me I" he told her, telepath- 
ically. "Keep your eyes on me, for to 
look at the cube spells danger I" 

But his own eyes went back to the 
thing, and he studied it closely. A 
cold chill raced through his body as he 
noted that its .gleam was becoming 
dull, fading slowly out. It had gleamed 
brightly at first, and now was losing its 
sheen, fading away to invisibility. He 
thought he should be able, regardless 
of gleam or color, to see its outline; 
but its outline, too, seemed to be be- 
coming faint, indistinct. 

THEN, in a trice, it was gone, and 
a feeling of uneasiness, more com- 
pelling than he had ever known before, 
coursed through the soul of Sarka. 
Where had the cube gone? What was 
it? What was its purpose? He tore 
his eyes away from the spot where he 
had last seen it, and stared away to the 
shadow beneath the second nearest ait- 
car, where he had glimpsed another of 
the cubes. 



The cube there, too, was fading out. 

"Sarka I Sarka 1 Look I" came to his 
brain the thoughts of Jaska. 

Sarka turned and stared at her, and 
a feeling of fear for Which he could not 
account ar all took fast hold of him. 
The eyes of Jaska, wide and staring as 
they had been when he commanded her 
tjb look away from the cube under the 
/aircar, were staring at that flat, table- 
like rock, off to his right. 

There, almost in the center of the 
rock, a gleaming something was taking 
shape I Ju^t a dull spot, in the center 
of the yellow glow ; then the beginning 
of the outline of a cube. Then, all at 
once, the cube itself, gleaming and 
baleful 1 

Sarka gasped in terror. He had seen 
the cube vanish, its glow disappear, 
and now here it was, almost close 
enough to 'touch, on a rock beside him, 
gleaming and baieful as before I That 
it was the same cube he had seen under 
the first aircar, he somehow knew 
without being told. That it was a sen- 
tient thing he also knew, for now there 
was no mistaking the fact that, but for 
the presence in the£ little hollow of 
Jaska and Sarka, the cube would not 
have moved. 

SWIFT as light, Sarka's right hand 
darted to .his belt, where his ray 
director should be nestled against his 
need of it. And with his first move- 
ment, the cube's brilliance vanished in- 
stantly, the cube disappeared, and ap- 
peared again right before the face of 
Sarka, so close^he could touch it I Yet 
he did not twn the ray director 
against it, nor did he extend his hand 
to touch the thing — because he was 
afraid to do so I 

Even as the cube appeared before 
his eyes, thrice baleful and menacing 
in its close proximity, his eyes darted 
back tb that broad flat rock, where the 
second gleaming cube now appeared I 
"Great Cod, Jaska I" he sent men- 
tally, "what does it mean?" 

"These," she answered bravely back, 
"are Moon-soldiers ! And, unless we 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



manage not to appear furtive, we are 
undone I" 

Still Sarka made no move, while 
other gleaming cubes appeared on the 
flat rock. Five other cubes appeared 
beside the first, at the rim of the hollow 
which held the forms of Jaska and 
Sarka. The cubes / were closing on 
them, oddly like a squad of Earthlings 
in the olden times, advancing by rushes 
against an entrenched enemy! 

The buzzing sound which they had 
first heard now seemed accentuated, 
but, instead of being outside of the lis- 
teners, seemed inside them, hammering 
against their very brains) Messages 
were being sent to them, or passed back 
and forth between and among the cube- 
men about them — and they; hadn't the 
slightest, idea how to make answer, 
know whether an answer was expected 
of thent or what the cube-men thought 
about them I 

Since there was nothing else to do, 
they lay there, hands clasped, as chil- 
dren in the dark clasp hands, and wait- 
ed for what might transpire. 

SUDDENLY the discord from the 
inside of the crater ceased, and all 
was still, while it' came to Sarka that 
the cube-men who* stood before him 
were in grim communication with 
something invisible to Sarka and Jaska, 
somebody, perhaps, deep in the bowels 
of the Moon, over inside the crater. 

They knew, those two, that the cube- 
soldiers were reporting their presence, 
and asking instructions ; that the Mood 
had gone silent to listen, and that 
within a few moments their fate would 
be decided. What should they do? 

In his hand Sarka held his v ray 
director, with which he knew he could 
blast one or all of the cubes into noth- 
ingness. But still he held his hand, 
made no new move. 

Something, however, had to be done, 
for - the discord was starting again, 
growing in volume. It made Sarka 
think, oddly enough, of a deaf mute 
\jj^kting for speech I Then came the 
Erst intelligible sound, . . . 



EARTH, THE MARAUDER 



221 



A burst,, from, the depths of the 
crater, of sardonic laughter I 

"Dalit C said Sarka, and moved. 
While Sarka moved, Jaska held fast to 
his arm. Casting her fear to the winds, 
furious because of the laughter of 
Dalis, Sarka thrust his ray director 
back into his belt and stood upright. 

Bending over he seized the first of 
the gleaming cubes and hurled it over 
the edge of the crater, saw it start 
plummetting down. But even before it 
fell out of sight within the crater its 
gleam had dulled until it was almost 
impossible to see the thing. Racing as 
though racing against time, Sarka 
caught up cube after cube and hurled 
them all after the first. 

OUT of the crater there came no 
sound of heavy objects striking, 
though Sarka felt there should have, 
for the cubes were almost as heavy as a 
man. 

Then his hair almost stood on end 
under his helmet, for under 'that first 
sircar, where he had first seen it, the 
initial cube was again gleanling into 
life I 

The thing had dissolved while being 
hurled over the rim, and reformed in 
its proper place, its station as silent 
sentinel under the aircar I 

These cubes then, were indeed senti- 
nels — sentinels impossible to injure. 
Though no force had been used against 
Sarka and Jaska, Sarka had the feeling 
that they were powerless, and that here 
on the edge of a crater of the Moon 
awful forces were being mustered 
against them; Mustered slowly, slug- 
gishly, yet surely, as though the men- 
tality which mustered them knew them 
helpless, and that there was no need to 
hurry I 

As for Jaska, she merely clung to 
Sarka and waited — trusting him no 
matter what might transpire. 

On a blind chance, Sarka brought out 
his ray director again, turned its 
muzzle toward that invisibly-blue col- 
umn, pressed with his fingers, moving 
the director baqk and forth. 



Instantly the blue column seemed to 
break short off, while the broken upper 
portion started racing outward toward 
the Earth. Sarka watched it, and noted 
that the yellowish glow on the Earth, 
even as he watched, was fading out — 
disappearing 1 

"If the ray will smash the blue col- 
umn, Jaska," he said, "it will also de- 
stroy its source I Come I We will go 
look for it I" 

And, holding her hand tightly, he 
rose to his fee) and strode boldly down 
the inner slope of theSwe^ crater. 

CHAPTER XIV 
The Crater Gnomes 

IT seemed to Sarka, as he moved 
down the inner slope of the crater, 
that the cubes were somehow making 
sport of him, laughing at him, though 
no hint of laughter or anything resem- 
bling laughter emanated from them. 

But, shutting his lips grimly, hold- 
ing fast to Jaska's hand, he proceeded 
on, reached the lower portion of the 
inner slope, where it dropped off into 
a seeming black abyss, and dropped, 
keeping to a safe speed because of the 
fact that both he and Jaska were at- 
tired for movement in the air — though 
their manner of aerial transportation 
could scarcely be called flying. 

The anti-gravitational ovoids sim- 
ply rendered ineffectual the law of 
gravity. 

Down they dropped, endlessly it 
seemed, while all about them, growing 
gradually, a bluish glow began to make 
itself manifest. Sarka turned and 
looked at the face of Jaska, and noted 
that it — all her being — was glowing 
with this strange radiance. 

He smiled at her, and she smiled 
back. 

Looking down now, to what seemed 
still a vast depth, they could see figures 
moving, tiny, almost infinitesimal, 
about a great circular cone, out of the 
depths of which came that strange 
bluish column whose outer tip touched 
the Earth. 



222 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



SOME inner sense warned Sarka not 
to touch that column, or to permit 
Jaska to do so. They dropped down 
beside it, while Sarka, for no reason 
that he could assign, once more took 
his ray director in his free band and 
held it in readiness. It seemed so tiny 
and futile — so foolish for two people, 
■one of them a woman — to go into the 
very heart of an alien world, against an 
unknown enemy, armed with such a 
tiny weapon. Two people against un- 
guessed myriads, whose very nature 
was an enigma, even to Sarka. 

Closer now appeared the bottom of 
the crater, whose floor seemed to be 
covered with something that looked 
like blue sand,, or rock. From this 
bluish substance the glow which 
bathed the two Earthlings seemed to 
emanate. 

The funnel of the crater had now 
given away to the immensities of space, 
in all directions, and the cold of out- 
side was being replaced by a warmth 
which promised soon to be even un- 
comfortable. 

Then, without a jar, the two landed 
at the bottom of the crater, side by 
side, close enough almost to that great 
cone to touch it. Out of the cone came 
that bluish column, to shoot up through 
the funnel down which the two had 
lightly dropped . . . and the motion of 
the — whatever it was — was accom- 
panied by a muted moaning sound, like 
that of a distant waterfall. 

They paused there, in amazement, 
taking stock of their surroundings. 
Huge tunnels, whose roofs were lost to 
invisibility in the bluish haze, whose 
extremities could only be guessed at, 
reached off in all directions. As far as 
the two could tell they were the- only 
living souls within the crater, though 
both knew better. 

Sarka had the feeling, and he knew 
Jaska snared it with him, that innum- 
erable eyes were studying them, in- 
numerable intellects were, cataloguing 
them. And somehow he sensed the 
presence, somewhere near, of the trai- 
tor Dalis I 



THEN that discordant sound again, 
breaking so swiftly that it fell 
upon the eardrums of Sarka and Ja%ka 
like the crack of doom. Out of the 
many tunnels, from all directions, came 
hordes of beings which would have 
made the nightmares of Paracelsus- 
first of the scientists of Earth — pale to 
insignificance. 

Paracelsus had written and illustrat- 
ed his nightmares. Had hinted of 
strange acts of flesh-grafting — as the 
grafting of legs on the head of man, 
He had spoken, and written about, 
ghastly operations, from which men 
came forth as part men, part spiders; 
part men, part scorpions, dogs, cats, 
crocodiles. . . . 

Sarka thought, as his mind went 
back to those ancient books of his 
people in which still remained vestiges 
of the theories of Paracelsus, that 
somehow, in his dreams, Paracelsus 
must have visited the craters of the 
Moon. 

These people . if they could <be 
called people. . . . 

They had heads like the heads of 
Earthlings, broad-domed of brow, lack- 
ing eyelashes or lids, so that their eyea 
were perpetually staring. They pos- 
sessed no bodies at all, and their legs, 
thin and attenuated to the size of the 
wrists of average men, seemed to sup- 
port the massive heads with difficulty I 
' From all directions they came, look- 
ing like spiders such as Sarka the First 
had described to Sarka, when Sarka 
had been a mere boy. They came on 
the floor, out of the tunnels; they 
dropped from the walls of the tunnels, 
and down from the invisible roofs, 
landing on the floor as lightly as feath- 
ers — and all converged on Jaska and 
Sarka. 

They seemed to have no fear at all, 
but only a vast curiosity. 
Closer and closer they came. 

IASKA'S grip tightened on the hand 
of Sarka, for one of the creatures, 
with a spiderish leap, had jumped upon 
her, fastening its legs in her tight-fit- 



EARTH. THE MARAUDER 



223 



ting costume, where he hung, his face 
within an inch or two of hers.. His lid- 
less eyes, unblinking, stared deeply 
into hers. 

Others jumped up beside the first, 
and still others! clambered over Sarka, 
until both Sarka and Jaska were cov- 
ered by them, like beetles attacked by 
ants. But these strange gnomelike 
creatures, who did not fear these 
strangers, apparently meant them no 
harm. 

Then, after a thorough scrutiny, be- 
gan the strangest talking Sarka had 
ever heard. The crater-Gnomes seemed 
to communicate by making strange 
clucking sounds with their tongues, 
sounds which were unmusical and dis- 
cordant, and which, as the Gnomes who 
stood back from them, because already 
the two were covered until no more 
could cling to Jaska or Sarka, joined in 
the speech — mounted in the cavern to 
a vast crescendo of sound. 

Sarka knew then that this was the 
sound which had come out to them 
while they crouched at the crater rim. 
These were people of the Moon ; but if 
these Were Moon-men, what, or who, 
were those gleaming cubes? 

"Stand perfectly still, 1 " Sarka men- 
tally admonished Jaska, "they appar- 
ently mean us no harm I" 

He had not\spoke aloud, had not al- 
lowed his thought to reach any but 
Jaska; yet instantly the discordant 
clucking ceased, and the Gnomes were 
quiet, as though they politely listened 
to someone who had interrupted them, 
yet whose interruption they resented, 
or were curious about. 

WONDERING how the creature 
would regard his action, Sarka 
reached forth and plucked away the 
first Gnome which had jumped upon 
Jaska, and placed him gently on the 
ground. The thing merely stared at 
Sarka with his lidless eyes, as though 
wondering at Sarka's meaning. Then 
his lips, which were triangular, rather 
than straight as those of Earthlings, 
began again that strange clucking. 



Immediately the Gnomes which 
clung to Jaska and Sarka dropped 
away, and scuttled into the midst of 
the .myriads that stood and watched. 
They did not understand the speech of 
these Earthlings, but they were unusu- 
ally clever in comprehending the mean- 
ing of gestures. 

"Hold fast to me, Jaska," thought 
Sarka toward her — and wondered anew 
as the Gnomes instantly ceased their 
clucking sounds — "for I am going to 
try an experiment." 

Holding her hand still, he turned and 
Btrode straight toward the huge cone 
out of which rose the bluish column. 

Instantly the Gnomes broke into a 
frightful clucking of tongues, a sound 
that mounted to ear-drum&reaking in- 
tensity, and in a trice, climbing over 
one another to get into position, they 
moved in between Sarka and the cone. 
So eager were they to bar his further 
progress that they stood atop one an- 
other, until the depth of them was as 
tall as Sarka standing upright. ' 

Yet, though they plainly said to 
Sarka: "You must not approach the 
cone," they did not seem to be angry 
with their visitors, but only curious. 
Sarka looked at Jaska, noted how wan- 
ly she smiled. 

Then he turned, and headed for the 
nearest of the monster tunnels. 

INSTANTLY he detected a surpris- 
ing eagerness in the renewed cluck- 
ing of tongues, while the Gnomes raced 
ahead, behind, ail about the two, caper- 
ing like pet animals, showing these 
strangers the way into the tunnel. 

As they entered it, Sarka tried to 
discover whence came the bluish glow. 
The floor seemed to be of bluish sand- 
stone, though its color, too, might have 
been caused by the glow. It was warm, 
too, so warm that perspiration was 
breaking out on the cnVeks of Sarka. 

Whence came the glow? Apparently 
from the very walls of the tunnel, or 
its roof; but surely from somewhere, 
surely from some secret place, whence 
it was diffused- all over. 



224 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



"And Jaaka," said Sarka, "the Moon, 
according to my father's researches, is 
literally honeycombed with craters like 
this one!" 

Again, as he thought, that strange, 
sudden cessation of the clucking of 
the Gnomes. Whither were they lead- 
ing them? It was plain to be seen that 
the Gnomes were heading for some 
destination, almost herding Sarka and 
Jaaka toward it. Capering creatures, 
who behaved witlessly, yet were far 
from witless. If Sarka were not sadly 
mistaken, these were Moon-men — and 
women, too, perhaps, since he could not 
tell the sex of them — and those gleam- 
ing cubes were their outer guards, per- 
haps slaves. 

If the cubes were really of metal — 
^they had felt warm to Sarka's touch — 
then these Moon-men had gone further 
in science than Earthlings, as they had 
imbued at least some metals, or stones, 
with intelligence sufficiently advanced 
for them to perform actions independ- 
ently of their masters' wills. 

SARKA, too, was remembering an- 
other thing: that he had touched 
one of these Gnomes, to remove if from 
Jaaka— and had felt B distinct shock 
that waa patently electrical I 

The bluish glow was increasing, be- 
coming more soft and mellow, shading 
(gradually into golden, as they advanced 
—shading still as they preceded until 
ft was almost white, almost blinding, in 
its radiance. 

Then, of a sudden, the clucking of 
the Gnomes ended, and the creatures 
ceased their capering, . fell into some- 
thing that might have been an ordered 
military formation, and with Jaska and 
Sarka in the midst of them, moved 
straighfrtoward a broad expanse of the 
tunnel Wall, in the face of which ap- 
peared three long lines/ deeply cut in 
the shape of a triangle. 

The Gnome who had first leaped 
upon Jaaka advanced to the wall, 
paused with his face almost against the 
lower line of the triangle, and remained 
there, intently staring, while the other 



Gnomes remained mute and unmoving. 

Stronger and stronger appeared the 
blinding light. Slowly the inner por- 
tion of the triangle began to give in- 
ward, like a door. And out of the open- 
ing came that blinding radiance. 

As the triangular door stood entirely 
open, Sarka and Jaska stood in thun- 
derstruck silence, staring like people 
bereft of their senses. For there, 
standing in the opening, the now white 
radiance itself a mantle to cover her, 
was a woman, unclothed save for the 
radiance, who might have been of the 
Earth, save that she was more beauti- 
ful than any woman Of Earth. 

Beside her the radiant beauty of, 
Jaska paled, became wan and sickly. 

But Sarka noted immediately her 
eyes, whose depths bewildered, amazed 
, him. For in them he could see no ex- 
pression, no feeling, but only abysmal 
cruelty. That she was Sarka's master, 
and Jaska'a master, and master of all 
these Gnomes, became instantly ap- 
parent for telepathically she addressed 
Sarka. 

"I am busy now. The Moon-people 
will hold you prisoners in the Place of 
the Blue Light, until I am ready to 
give you to the Cone I" 

CHAPTER XV 
The Place of the Blue Light 

SO the Gnomes were Moon-people, 
masters of the Kfobn-cuhea I And 
people an<| cubes were ruled by a 
woman who resembled a woman of 
Earth) 

The Gnomes took them back the way 
they had come. 

Where, Sarka wondered, were the 
people of the Gens of Dalis? And 
where was Dalis himself I Sarka was 
sure that, in those first discords which 
had come out of the crater, he had 
heard at least a hint of the laughter of 
Dalis. 

And this woman clothed in radiance 
— who was she? And what? That she 
was a creature of the Moon, and yet 
resembled in all ways a woman of 



EARTH, THE MARAUDER 

> 



225 



Earth, save that she was more beauti- 
ful than any woman Sarka had ever 
seen, seemed .almost impossible to be- 
lieve. Yet he had seen her. So had 
Jaska, and as Sarka and Jaaka.with the 
capcjring Gnomes still about them, 
were led away to a fate at which they 
could only guess, Sarka wondered at 
Jaska's silence and at the strange lack 
of expression on her face. 

He pressed her hand, but somehow 
she failed to return the pressure, mys- 
tifying more than ever. This sudden 
coldness was not like Jaska. 

Back they went through the vast 
cavern where the cone of the bluish 
column still moaned and murmured. 
Sarka moved as close to the cone as the 
Gnomes would permit, and peered up 
along the mighty length of the column. 
At its tip was stilL the Earth, like a 
■tar viewed from the bottom of a deep 
well. 

Smaller, too, it seemed, which proved 
that Sarka's breaking of the blue 
column had been but momentary, that 
the column had almost instantly re- 
gained its contact with the Earth. 
What was its source, what the compo- 
sition of the column? 

AT the moment there could be no 
answer to the question. Now the 
Gnomes were escorting them into an- 
other tunnel, whose glow was even 
bluer than that which the two had ex- 
perienced in the other tunnels. And 
the deeper they penetrated, the more 
distant from the cavern of the Cone, 
the deeper in color became that light. 

Finally the Gnome who had men- 
tally asked permission of the Radiant 
Woman to show her Jaska and Sarka 
paused before another expanse of wall. 
Identical in appearance with that of 
the wall of the triangle from which 
the Radiant Woman had appeared. 

This time the Gnome managed in- 
gress by a strange clucking sound, with 
his triangular lips held close to the 
hue-line of the triangle. 

Now the door swung open; but the 
radiance which now came out was not 



clear white, as in the case of the outer 
door, but deeply, coldly blue. For the 
first time the Gnomes used force with 
their prisoners, thus proving to them 
that they were indeed prisoners. Their 
tiny feet caught at Sarka and at Jaska, 
and forced them through the door,' 
which swung shut behind them. 

Sarka looked at Jaska who, in this 
strange new light, had taken on the 
color of indigo, and smiled at her. 
She did not return his smile, but her 
eyes looked deeply, somewhat sorrow- 
fully, into his. Ae though she asked 
him a question he could not under- 
stand, to which he could peref ore give 
no answer. 

SARKA was now conscious of the 
Iqct that the heat of their prison- 
house — whose character they did not 
as yet know — was becoming almost un- 
bearable. They were alone, too, for ,the 
Gnomes had not entered the door of 
triangle. Sarka partially removed his 
life mask, and, testing the atmosphere 
of the place, found it capable of being 
breathed without the mask. He sig- 
nalled mentally to Jaska to remove her 
mask, and when the girl had done so 
he took her in his arms and kissed her 
on the lips. 

She accepted his caress, but did not 
return it, and her eyes still peered 
deeply into his. 

"Well, beloved," he said, "I am ter- 
ribly sorry. But I did not want you to 
come, because I was afraid that some- 
thing of this sort would happen." 
She did not answer. 
"What is it, Jaska?" he said at last. 
"What did you think of that 
woman 7" she asked softly. 

"Beautiful I" he said enthusiastically. 
"Fearfully beautiful! ^But did you aef 
her eyes? She had no more mercy 
her heart than if she were made of 
stone 1 And she hated us both the mo- 
ment she saw usl" 

"And you, Sarka — did you hate her, 
too?" 

Sarka stared at her, not comprehend- 
ing. 



226 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



"I feel," he said, "that if we are ever 
to escape her, we must kill hy, or ren- 
der her incapable of retaining usi" 

Then, of her own accord, Jaska 
placed her arms around Sarka, and 
gave him her lips. Her new behavior 
was as incomprehensible to Sarka as 
her former enigmatic expression had 
been. Wise in the ways of science 
was Sarka, but he knew nothing of 
women ! 

NOW, hand in hand again, they be- 
gan a survey of their prison 
house. The bluish glow was unbear- 
able to the <yes, and tears came unbid- 
den and ran down the cheeks of the 
prisoners. In a minute or two, perspi- 
ration was literally bathing the bodies 
of the two. After a questioning ex- 
change of glances, Sarka swiftly di- 
vested himself of his costume, strip- 
ping down to the gray toga of Earth's 
manhood. -With a shrug, Jaska re- 
moved- her clothing to her own toga, 
and the two suits Sarka carried under 
his arm. / 

They started ahead, exploring, then 
sprang back with a cry <of fright. 
Sarka did not know whether it was 
Jaska or himself who had cried out; 
for just as they moved forward, a rent 
opened in the floor at their feet, and 
their eyes for a moment— they could 
stand no longer — peered into a bluely 
flaming abyss which, save for the color, 
reminded Sarka of 'the word pictures 
of Hell he had- read _in_Earth's books 
of antiquity I \ 

As the two stepped ba«k\th» rent in 
the floor closed instantly. iSarka had" 
noted where the end of it pad been, 
and started to detour, his eyes on the 
floor. \ 

Over to his left the bluely glowing 
wall reached up to invisible immensity. 
But as he would have passed along the 
wall, the rent opened again, effectually 
barring his way. , 

Beyond the reiit he could see a vast 
continuation of the cavern, and he'felt 
that, could they only pass the rent, 
they ynight reach a place where the 



heat was not so unbearable, and they 
could stay and talk in comfort. 

RELEASING Jaska, he stepped 
back and prepared to leap the 
spot where the rent had been. High he 
jumped, and far, surprised at the 
length of his own leap. He landed 
lightly, far beyond the area where the 
rent had been, and even as he landed, 
a rent opened again at his feet, thus 
effectually barring further progress I 

"It could just as easily," he told him- 
self, "have opened under my feet, and 
dropped me into the abyss I" 
• From tiehind him came the sudden 
sound of screaming. He whirled to 
look back, to Bee Jaska standing there, 
arms outstretchedr toward him, her eyea 
with with feat And horror, and as he 
stood watchingVshe raced to him, un- 
mindful of abysses that might open 
under her feet, and flung herself into 
his arms. 

"Come back!" she moaned. "Come 
back! Don't you see? They don't 
wish you to explore further! We are 
in their power, and must simply await 
their pleasure, whoever or whatever 
they are I They see all we do I" 

So they turned back, and stood 
against the door which held them pris- 
oners ; and the heat of the place seemed 
to enter into them, to gnaw at their 
very vitals. After a time Sarka found 
himself almost tearing at his throat, 
fighting for breath. 

GASPING, the tears bathing their 
cheeks until even their tears and 
their perspiration would flow no more, 
they huddled now just inside the mas- 
sive stone door, arms about each other, 
and almost prayed for death. Sarka 
at least prayed for death, for both of 
them; but Jaska prayed for a way of 
deliverance, prayed that herself and 
Sarka might somehow win free, and be 
together again. 

Sarka, who knew little of women, 
marveled at the grandeur of her cour- 
age, and wondered that he really knew 
this radiant woman so little. He com- 



EARTH, THE MARAUPER 



227 



pared her in his mind with the un- 
clothed woman who had ordered them 
here as prisoners, and it came to him 
that Jaska was all perfection, all ten- 
der womanhood, while the Radiant 
Woman was a monster, without soul 
or compassion — a creature of horror 
who mocked God with her outward 
seaming of perfection. 

Jaska read his thoughts, and smiled 
wanly to herself, and Sarka wondered 
how, suffering as he knew she must be 
suffering, she could find the courage 
to smile. 

Then, for a time, the two Defame 
comatose, mastered by the blue heat, 
and in dreamlike imaginings wandered 
in strange fields which could only, to 
these two, have been racial memories, 
since neither had ever seen such fields. 
There were cool streams, all a-murmur, 
and breezes which cooled their sun- 
tanned cheeks. Water touched their 
tongues, and cooled their whole bodies 
as they gratefully imbibed it. 

IN their wanderings, in which Sarka 
was a faun and Jaska a nymph, 
they talked together in a language 
which only these two comprehended — a 
language which dealt in figures of 
speech, a language which depended 
upon handclasps for periods, glances of 
the eyes for commas, and the singing 
of their hearts for complete under- 
standing. 

Then a cool breeze, cool by compari- 
son, caressed their pain-distorted 
cheeks, and the Gnomes came in, found 
them lying there, and clucked endless- 
ly as though wondering what to do 
with them. . 

Prom hand to tiny hand, thejs-feet 
serving as hands, the Gnomes passed 
garments — garments of the Gens of 
Dalis, and clothed again the two whom 
the Place of the Blue Light had all but 
slain. Of that ghastly experiment 
Sarka retained but one real mem- 
ory. . . . 

That bluish light, in the midst of the 
abyss, shifting and swaying like blue 
serpents swimming in Hades . . . that 



bluish light of the Cone, which he had 
broken up for a brief moment by the 
use of his ray director. Was this 
bluish light in the abyss the source of 
the light in the Cone? If one were to 
destroy it at its source. ... 

The two regained consciousness 
completely as the triangular door 
closed behind Sarka and Jaska and the 
Gnomes, and they were taken into the 
refreshing coolness of the tunnel, led 
back again in the direction of the room 
where they had seen the Radiant 
Woman. Both Jaska and Sarka no- 
ticed that they were*Ylothed in new 
clothing, and a shy blush tinged the 
cheeks of Jaska as her eyes met those 
of Sarka. 

THIS time they entered the vast 
chamber of radiance behind the 
first triangular door, and were forced 
to their knees to do obeisance to the 
Radiant Woman, who sat on a gleam- 
ing yellow stone for dais I The guards 
who forced Sarka and Jaska to their 
knees, were clothed in the green of the 
Gens of Dalis, and Dalis himself, his 
face stem, but bearing no sign of rec- 
ognition of these two, stood at the 
right hand of the Radiant Woman ! 

"You come to us as spies," the 
thought of the Radiant Woman im- 
pinged upon the brains of Sarka and of 
Jaska, "and as spies you should be 
given to the Cone. But if you swear 
eternal allegiance to me, to obey me in 
all things, to forego your allegiance to 
Earth, your lives will be spared I What 
Bay you?" 

Boldly Sarka stared into the almost 
opaque eyes of the woman. Then his 
glance went to the face of Dalis. 

"What," he asked boldly, in the lan- 
guage of Earth, "dots the traitor D_fclis 
say?" * 

"I have sworn allegiance to Luar, 
who addresses you, and am her ally in 
all things! I have but one addition to 
make to what she says: Jaska belongs 
tomel" 

.The sudden leering grin of Dajis was 
hideous. 



228 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



Sarka peered at Jaska, framing his 
answer. But Jaska spoke first. 

"For myself, O DalisJ' she said 
■wiftly, "I can answe>+n^but one way. 
Return me to the Place of the Blue 
.Light, and forget me thereT' 
\ Sarka smiled, while his heart leaped 
with joy. 

"And I, O Luar," he said mentally to 
the Radiant Woman, "prefer death 
with Jaska, at the Place of the Blue 
Light, than life as a traitor to the 
world of my nativity I" 

Instantly Luar began the clucking 
sound which was the language of the 
Gnomes, at the same time allowing her 
thoughts as she spoke to impress them- 
selves upon the brains of the prisoners. 

"Take thenfaway I Take them to the 
Cavern of the Cone, and when they 
have suffered as much as' such inferior 
beings are capable of suffering, thrust 
them into, the base of the Cone I" 



CHAPTER XVI 
Cavern of the Cone 



THE Gnomes had been bidden to 
take the prisoners to the Cavern 
of the Cone, but to the surprise of 
Sarka and Jaska, they were taken back 
to the Place of the Blue Light I This 
time the Gnomes*, entered the place 
with them, closing and securing the 
door behind them. 

But the Place of the Btw L ight had 
changed I 

Now it bad no floor of blue, as itihad 
had before, but only a corridor perhaps 
wide enough to allow the passage of 
four grown men, walking side by side, 
while the abyss of which the two had 
got but the merest hint through the 
opening arid closing rents filled all the 
center of the placet 

The Gnomes seemed impervious to 
the unendurable heat, and these, mov- 
ing together, one behind the other, one 
beside the other, one atop the other, 
formed a living wall between Sarka 
and Jaska and the rim of the flaming 
blue abyss, to protect them from the 
heat 



Yet through the bodies of this bring 
wall of Gnomes, a wall which was 
higher than the heads of Sarka and 
Jaska, the heat forced its way to the 
prisoners, and burned them anew with 
its agony. 

To what dread rendezvous were they 
going? Where, save for the few 
guards at the house of Luar, were the 
people of the Gens of Dalais? Sarka 
felt, somehow, that the answers to all 
these questions would soon be made 
manifest, and a feeling of exaltation 
he could not explain was possessing 
him as, he advanced. Around the cor- 
ridor, whose one side was the wall 
reaching up to invisibility, whose other 
side dropped off into the abyss, the 
Gnomes herded the prisoners. 

THE leader, of the Gnomes was 
again the Gnome who had first 
leaped upon Jaska to examine her curi- 
ously. . Now, watching the lidless eyes 
of this being, Sarka fancied he could 
detect a' hint of some expression. The 
Gnome was excited at some prospect, 
some climax which they were ap- 
proaching. What? On and on they 
moved. The blue flames from the 
abyss, roaring in a way that neither of 
the prisoners had ever experienced, 
reached upward in scaring tongues to- 
ward the invisible roof of this place. 

Then, when they had progressed far 
from the door of entry, Sarka gasped 
at a new manifestation. Out of the 
abyss, some distance ahead, came a 
gleaming thing, something that had ap- 
parently evolved itself out of the 
flames of the abyss. Blue of color it 
was, because of the^ flames from the 
pit; but Sarka recognized it with a 
start which he could not suppress nor 
understand. 

It was one of those cubes, such as be 
and Jaska had seen at the lip of the 
.Moon-crater I As they approached, 
guided by the Gnomes, other cubes ap- 
peared out of the abyss, others in num- 
bers swiftly augmented, until a veri^ 
table bhttalion of them bad marshalled 
itself, \Bere at the lip of the abyss. 



EARTH. THE MARAUDER 



229 



STRAIGHT toward these cubes the 
Gnomes led Sarka and Jaska, and 
when they had reached the center of 
the group, they halted, forming a 
circle, still a wall to mask the prisoners 
from the heat of the, abyss. The leader 
of the Gnomes stopped with his face, 
his lidless eyes, close to one of the 
cubes. I 

For a moment he paused thus, and 
Sarka felt sure that somehow the 
Gnome was holding thought converse 
with the cube; but, try as he might, 
he could find no meaning in the weird 
conversation for himself. It was oddly 
like listening to a conversation in a 
code beyond his knowledge. 

Then the Gnome turned back to 
Sarka and Jaska. By a pressure of 
tiny feet, he tried to indicate that 
Sarka and Jaska should unclasp their 
hands. But they only clung the 
tighter, and now. threw their arms 
about each other. 

The Gnome desisted, much to the joy 
of, the lovers, while Sarka studied the 
cities, wondering what their mission 
was with Jaska and himself. 

Slowly, together, the cubes began to 
lose their bluish glow, their cube shape 
— to vanish utterly. 

In a trice, still locked in each other's 
arms, Sarka and Jaska saw the Gnomes 
through what appeared to be an even 
bluer haze. Besides, the heat of the 
ibyss no longer tortured them, and 
their bodies were cooling in a way that 
was. unbelievably refreshing. 

"What is it, beloved?" whispered 
Jaska. "What is it?" 

SARKA stared at the Gnomes, now 
in retreat, capering as they had 
first capered when the two had fallen 
into their hands, toward the door by 
which all had entered. Mystified, 
Sarka put forth his hand. It came in 
contact with something solid, and odd- 
ly warm, which stirred an instantly re- 
sponsive chord in the brain of Sarka. 

This feeling was the same as he ex- 
perienced when he had lifted those 
cubes and hurled them into the crater 



— where they had dissolved in falling, 
and instantly reappeared, each under 
its own aircarl 

"Jaska I" he explained. "Jaska 1 The 
cubes have dissolved themselves, and 
have reformed in the shape of a globe, 
as a protective covering about us, to 
protect ub from the heat of the abyss I 
Apparently we are not to be killed at 
once I These cubes are slaves of the 
Gnomes, of whom Luar is ruler I" 

They were indeed locked inside a 
globe, a globe whose integral parts 
were the cubes of their acquaintance; 
and the atmosphere of the interior was 
not uncomfortable, but ; otherwise. 
Sarka and Jaska were feeling normal 
for the first time sincejthey had landed 
on the Moon. But what was the mean- 
ing of this strange imprisonment? 

They were soon to know! 

For the globe which enclosed them, 
moved to the edge of the flaming abyss, 
and dropped into the bluish glow I It 
did not drop heavily, like a falling ob- 
ject on Earth, but rather floated down- 
ward, right into the heart of the 
flames. At this new manifestation ' of 
the strangeness of science on the 
Moon, Sarka was at once all scientist 
himself, striving to find adequate an- 
swers for things which, from cause to 
effect, were entirely new to him. With 
Jaska still clasped close against him, 
he seated himself in the base of the 
globe and studied the area through 
which they were passing. , 

Blue flames which seemed to be born 
somewhere, an infinite distance below 
them; blue flames which he knew to 
be the element .that, shot outward from 
the great cone, had forced the Moon 
away from the Earth. 

No sound of the roaring flames came 
through the globe, but every movement 
of them was visible. 

SARKA turned arnd peered through 
the bottom of the globe; but all 
he could see below were the flames, a 
molten indigo lake of them. Now, as 
they floated downward, the glow was 
giving away to lighter blue, to white, 



230 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



almost pure white, like the radiance 
which covered Luar like a mantle. 

Sarka felt himself on the eve of 
vast, important discoveries, and the 
scientist in him made him, for the mo- 
ment, almost forget the woman at his 
side. Jaska, unbothered about any- 
thing, now that Sarka was at her side, 
regarded his expression of deep con- 
centration with a tolerant smile. 

Whiter now was the light, and faster 
fell the globe which held the two. 

The color of the globe, now fallen 
below the area of blue, had taken on, 
chameleonlike, the color of the white 
flames that bathed it. 

Then, apparently right in the center 
of a lake of white flames, though 
Sarka could see no solid place on 
which the globe had landed, the globe 
came to rest. 

Now everything was plain to Bee, and 
Sarka studied his surroundings with 
new interest. He felt a mounting 
sensation of scalp-prickling horror. 

For, scattered throughout the lake of 
white flames, in all directions, as far 
as the eye could reach — standing alone, 
suffering untold agonies, from the ex- 
pressions on their faces— /were people 
of the Gens of Dalis I 

NO longer web they clothed in 
green and wearing on breast and 
back the yellow stars of their Gens. 
Now they were nude as they had come 
into the world and standing there, each 
was holding out hands in horror, f to 
hold back myriads of the' Gnomes, who 
would have forced them to submerge 
themselves in the white flames of the 
lake I 

Was the Gens of Dalis being burned 
alive? What was the meaning of this? 

For a moment, filled with horror, 
Sarka looked away from the spectacle. 
Off to his right, as he sat, he noted that 
the flames, which here seemed lighter 
than they had in high levels, were con- 
verging on a single spot toward the 
side of the lake of white flames — as 
smoke converges on the base of a chim- 
ney leading outward to the air I 



He knew as he stared that he was 
gazing at the spot where the bluish 
column of the cone was born I 

Shaking his head, he turned back to 
the mighty spectacle of this horrible 
thing that was being done to the people 
of the Gens of Dalis. 

In his hrain there suddenly crashed 
a thought whose source he could only 
guess at, whose meaning mystified him 
more than anything yet experienced. 
The thought might have emanated 
from Luar, or from Dalis. But the 
more he thought of the matter', the 
more he thought how the phrasing of 
the thought was like the telepathy of 
Sarka the Second, now thousands of 
miles away, upon the Earth. And this 
was the thought:: 

"If they fight the flames, the flames 
will destroy them I If they go into 
them freely, voluntarily, they will be 
rendered immune to heat and to cold, 
to life and to death. But it is better 
that they die, for Earth's sake I" 

What did it mean? 

SARKA thought of the radiant 
white light which, perpetually 
bathed the person of Luar, and thought 
that he had somehow been given a hint 
of its source. If the Gens of Dalis 
were voluntarily bathed in the lake of 
white flames, would they become as 
Luar? 

Somehow, though he knew that such 
bathing would save their lives, the idea 
filled him anew with horror. He found 
himself torn between two duties. If he 
sent his thought out there to the Gens 
of Dalis, people of Earth, his people, 
they would be saved, but might forever 
become allies of the people of the 
Moon. If Sarka did not tell them, they 
would die — and there were millions of 
them. ( f" 

But his science had always been a 
science of Life, and it still was. 

"Enter the flames I" he telephatically 
bade his people. "Enter the flames I" 

But they did not heed him, and for 
the first time the atmosphere of the in- 
terior of the globe seemed filled with 



EARTH, THE MARAUDER 



231 



savage, abysmal menace I Plain to Sarka 
was the meaning of that menace: The 
cubes which composed this globe were 
loyal to their masters, the masters to 
a mistress, Luar, and would counte- 
nance no- meddling. 

Likewise it was impossible, if the 
Gnomes willed it to the cubes, for 
Sarka to transmit his thoughts to the 
Gens of Palis through the transparent 
walls of 4he globe I 

They were prisoners, indeed, of 
Dalis and of Luar I J 

BUT could Sarka and Jaska turn 
their new-found knowledge to 
their own use? Sarka was thinking 
back, back to one of the ancient tomes 
of his people. It spoke, someplace, of 
a man who had got trapped in the heart 
of a seething volcano, where the heat 
of it had cured him of his illnesses, 
made him whole again, given him new 
youth and freshness. 

But since the cubes could forestall 
vhis transmission of thought, and per- 
haps could read and understand 
thoughts, how was he to tell Jaska? 
How show her that a way of deliver- 
ance had been given into their hands, 
if they only possessed the courage to 
ubc it I 

Again came that thought, which 
Sarka recognized as the telepathy of 
his. father : 

"Courage I You will , win, and Jaska 
with you I" 

Thoughts could come in to them 
then, but could not go out. Or did it 
mean that the cubes, or th« masters of 
the cubes, did not care if the prisoners 
received messages fqotn outside, be- 
cause they knew themselves capable of 
frustrating anything the prisoners 
planned? Perhaps. More than likely 
that was it. 

But, looking through the bottom of 
the globe, into the sea of white flames 
below, Sarka gripped more tightly his 
ray director, and tried to marshal the 
forces of his courage. There was sure- 
ly some way of escape. Some way out 
of their strange predicament. 



CHAPTER XVII 
Casting the Die 

SOMEHOW Sarka believed that 
this white radiance of .the abyss 
held the secret of the omnipotence, of 
Luar, if omnipotence she possessed. 
That she did seemed sure, else Dalis 
would not have been with her. Be- 
sides, She had asked Sarka and Jaska 
to swear allegiance to her. Yes the 
secret was here, in the heart of the 
lake of white flames. 

It might have been the Moon Foun- 
tain of Youth, or of omnipotence. 
There was -no telling, unless Sarka 
tried an experiment. 

His -fury at Dalh now knew no 
bounds, and he was conscious of a de- 
sire, too poignant almost to be borne, 
in some way to circumvent the arch- 
traitor. For here in the craters of the 
Moon Dalis was working out a strange 
amplification of the scheme which he 
had, centuries before, proposed to 
Sarka the First. He was subjecting 
the people of his Gens to the white 
flames. 

If they Immersed themselves volun- 
tarily, they became as Luar was, but 
still subservient to the will of Dalis — 
and, in his hands, invincible instru- 
ments of wart Dalis had doubtless al- 
already been bathed in the flames. 
Sarka was not sure, for in the home of 
Luar the white light was so blinding 
it would have been impossible to make 
sure that . the white radiance clothed 
the others with Luar. 

"That's It I" said Sarka to himself. 
"That's itl Dalis and those guards at 
the dais of Luar have already been 
subjected to the white flames I The 
rest who immerse themselves, volun- 
tarily, come forth as Luar and Dalis I 
Who do not, dfe. Dalis' manner of 
forcing the survival of the fittest I His 
idea of the flood irt'grandfather's 4ne, 
only now he causes his selection* by 
flames instead of flood I He believes 
that only those worthy to survive, and 
to stand at his back in whatever he 
conceives to be his need, will guess the 



232 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



secret ,of the immersion. The others 
will diet" 

HAT a terrible alternative, 
when Dalis could as easily have 
given the secret to all his people! 
Could have told 'them 'how to save 
themselves I But it was not Dalis' 
way. Here, in the beginning of what 
was to become a dual sovereignty of 
the Moon, Dalis had already taken 
thought on the matter of over-popula- 
tion, and was destroying the many that 
the few — the strongest, most ruthless — 
might survive I Hundreds of thou- 
sands, millions of ..the Gens of Dalis, 
stood at the door of life, and did not 
know how to enter, merely because 
Dalis withheld the key I And, pausing 
in terror before the flames, they died, 
when a step and a plunge would have 
saved them all I 

"If he lives to be a million, if he lives 
through everlasting life," said Sarka to 
himself, "and does penance through a 
thousand reincarnations, Dalis can 
never atone for this wholesale destruc- 
tion of humanity I But I . . L I won- 
der I" 

Sarka realized the nicety of th«r re- 
venge of Dalis upon J^ska and him- 
self. Dalis had not given the secret to 
the prisoners, but by his use of the 
cubes, he had plunged them into the 
very heart of the horror, where they 
could see the suffering of the people of 
the Gens. Then, when they had seen 
and appreciated the horror of it all, 
they would follow the people of the 
Gens to death I 

But Luar had spoken of thrusting 
them into the base of the Cone I 

nr^HEN they were not for the flames 
X after alii How could it be done? 
The globe composed of the cubes had 
but to transport the prisoners to the 
base of the Cone, press against that 
base, and open to let the prisoners free 
— and in the heart of the white-blue 
column they would be hurled outward 
from the Moon, into space. The mere 
prospect of such horror caused the per- 



spiration to break forth anew on the 
body of Sarka. 

But there might be a way. 

"I wonder," he asked himself, "if the 
Earth people in this crater could read 
my thoughts in spite of their agonies, 
if I could get my thought to them 
through the globe? I wonder if, read- 
ing my thoughts, they would obey ?" 

Bit by bit, as parts of a puzzle fall 
into place, he made Ids plan, and his 
heart beat high with fltcitement. Jaska 
bent before him to look into his eyes, 
and he knew that she was trying to 
read his face. She knew, wise Jaska, 
that this .brilliant lover of hers was 
making a plan, and she believed in the 
sure success of it .because it would be 
his! 

She smiled at him, her courage high, 
and waited I 

Holding the ray director between 
his body and that of jaska, he took a 
terrible, ghastly chance. Dalis had 
known the secret sign manual of these 
two ; but would the intelligence of the 
cubes comprehend it? He must take 
the chance, slender as it seemed. His 
free hand began to spell out, with all 
speed, the mad plan he had conceived. 

"The white flames are harmless if 
one plunges into them voluntarily. 
Are you afraid to attempt it? No? 
Then unfasten your clothing, and have 
it so arranged that you can drop en- 
tirely out of it when I give you the 
signal, which will be a mere widening 
of the eyes, like this! You under- 
stand? We must go nude into the 
flames, so that they will bathe our 
whole bodies I But, when you slip out 
of your clothing, tear your anti-gravi- 
tational ovoid from the skull-pan of 
your helmet, and hold it in your 
mouth) Then, depend upon me, and 
have no Tear 1" 

"I have no fear," replied the fingers 
of Jaska. "I go to death with you if 
you wish-^r to Life I" 

FEELING the menace of the cubes 
almost gripping at his throat as he 
got into action, Sarka unfastened his 



W 



EARTH, THE MARAUDER 



233 



qjpn clothing, ripped the ovoid from 
bis helmet, placed it in his mouth. 
Then, looking at Jaska, he gave her the 
signal 

Instantly, at her nod, he brought 
forth the ray director, pressed it with 
his fingers, directing its muzzle toward 
the curve of the globe, swinging it 
around in a circle, cutting out the bot- 
tom of the globe Ojf cubes. 

The action must have been one of 
untold surprise to the cubes which 
made up the globe, for before anything 
could be done to stay the, hand of 
Sarka, his ray director had cut out the 
bottom of the globe, and Jaska and. 
himself, divested now of all clothing, 
had fallen from the globe. 

Unbearable heat slashed and tore at 
them. They still held hands, and when 
their feet touched upon something 
solid, they were gasping with the un- 
believable heat; and it was ripping at 
their lungs like talons of white hot 
steel. But, pausing not at all, Sarka 
raced ahead with Jaska, and dived 
straight into the lake of white flames. 

As he dived he directed his thoughts 
toward the people of the Gens who 
stood, undecided, dying by slow 
inches, on their little oases in the lake. 
And this was the thought, which was a 
command* 

"Plunge into the flames! They will 
not hurt you I Plunge in, and obey my 
commands, O people of the Gens of 
Dalisl I, Sarka, command that you 
obey me I Jaska, who commanded you 
it the will of Dalis, also commands. 
Gather with Jaska and me at* the base 
'of the Conel You have but to follow 
the converging of the flames I" 

TOGETHER the two plunged in, 
and it seemed all at once as though 
the fire had gone out of the white 
flumes, for they were cool and sooth- 
ing to the touch. Sarka could feel new 
life being borne in him, .could feel him- 
Klf revitalized, exalted, lifted to the 
heights. He suddenly experienced the 
desire to run, and shout his joy for all 
to hear. But reason held him. Not 



thus easily would Luar and Dalis, the 
traitor, give over their designs against 
these two. 

But in the heart of the flames, they 
dropped down, while they turned their 
faces toward the base of the Cone, or 
where., they thought the base to be, 
even as Sarka gave another command 
to the now invisible people of the Gens 
of Dalis. 

"Hold your ovoids in your mouths 
and follow I Obey my will 1" 

They dropped now to what seemed 
to be cool flagstones, while above them 
showed an orifice in -a wall, into which 
those tongues of flame were darting. 
They pausad there, side by )s)ide, theix 
faces radiant, and looked back the way 
they had come. 

Coming out of the white flames, like 
battalions on parade, were the people 
of the Gens of Dalis — scores and hun- 
dreds of them, who had sensed and 
heeded the mental^commands of Sarka~j 
Like genii appearing out of the flames 
they came, to muster about Sarka and 
Jaska. 

Then, when it seemed that no more 
were coming, Sarka turned to the base 
of the Cone, his face high shining with 
courage and confidence, and stepped 
straight into the flames that led into 
the Cone. Beside him came Jaska, 
while behind him came the people of 
the Gens of Dalais who dared to do as 
he had commanded. 

They were sucked into the Cone like 
chips sucked into a whirlpool, and 
Sarka willed a last command as they 
entered : 

"Quit the column at the lip of the 
crater, and muster about the aircara I" 

CHAPTER XVIII 
The People of Radiance 

THE exaltation of Sarka knew no 
bounds, and looking into the eyes 
of Jaska, he knew she felt it, too. For 
her face was shining, and all of her, 
the wondrous shining brilliance of her, 
was bathed in the white radiance that 
mantled Luar. And now, since Jaska 



234 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



too knew that radiance, her beauty 
was greater even than that of Luar. 
Sarka thrilled anew at the glory of her. 

But even as he stepped into the base 
of the Cone, he steppod out of the blue 
column at ttfe lin of the Moon-crater. 
Swift as light, and swifter, had, been 
the the flight upward from the Cavern 
of the Cone; yet, so keen were his per- 
ceptions, he knew when he had passed 
through the chamber of the bluish 
glow, into which he and Jaska had first 
dropped upon arrival. 

Now they were on the lip of the 
crater, and the people of the Gens who 
had followed Tiim, were slipping out of 
the blue column, like insects out of a 
flame, and converging on the aircars 
whose tentacles still waved as they had 
when Sarka had last seen them. 

Sarka looked at these people in 
amazement. To him th<_re was a di- 
vinity d'ow about their nudeness which 
nudity never before had suggested to 
him. For the people shone, and there 
was something glorious in those di- 
vinely white bodies. They reminded 
Sarka of his people's books of an- 
tiquity, and his childhood's pictures of 
angels. ... * 

But the effect of those white 
flames I . . . 

THERE was no explaining it. But 
Sarka felt that whatever he wjlled^ 
to do he could do; that whatever he 
wished for was his, whether it was his 
by right or no. He felt that he could 
move mountains, with only the aid of 
his hands. Looking at Jaska he con- 
ceived all sorts of new beauty in her, 
for she was the brightest, to him, of all 
the people who had passed through the 
lake of white flames, and been cleansed 
in their heat. 

"No wonder Luar has mastered the 
Moon I" -he cried to Jaska. "For when 
she was bathed in the white flames, her 
will is paramount!" 

"But how, if sh'e passes the people 
of the Gens of Dalis through the 
flames, will she retain her sovereign- 



"Because Dalis, too, has passed 
through, and his will is the will of the 
Gens I They will obey him, and he 
has sworn allegiance to Luar, or given 
some sort of oath of fealty I" 

"How strange that but one person on 
the Moon has been bached in the white 
flames I" 

"How do we know," Sarka' almost 
whispered it, "that she is, originally, 
of the Moon? Does 'she not look too 
much like our people, to be from an- 
other world entirely?" 

"I do not know, but . . . you mean 
. . . you mean. . .?" 

"I scarcely know; but Dalis would 
swear allegiance to no man, much leu 
to a woman, unless he knew that man, 
or woman, far better than he has had 
opportunity, in a matter of hours only, 
to know Luar 1" 

He left it there then, as he strode 
boldly, with Jaska by his side, to the 
nearest of the aircars. 

AS he approached the car, the 
gleam cube beneath it seemed to 
gleam brighter and brighter, as though 
it echoed the radiance of Sarka. Sarka 
knew, studying this phenomenon, that 
he possessed at least a hint of the 
secret of Luar's omnipotence. There 
had been a hint before, but by now its 
meaning was clearer. The white 
flames, out of the heart of the dying 
Moon, gave new life, exaltation, not 
only to the bodies but to the brains of 
those who passed through it, and with 
their brains quickened, they possessed 
such knowledge as men of Earth, for 
ages, had wished to possess. 

Transmutation of metals . . the 
ability, at will, to endow the higher, 
more selective metals with intelligence 
. . . and the ability to retain command 
of the intelligences thus endowed. 
This explained the power of Luar over 
the Gnomes, and the power of the 
Gnomes over the cubes — if theyipot- 
sessed that power. " 

But the Gnomes, what of them? 
What were they? 

But for a space Sarka must await the 



EARTH, THE MARAUDER 



233 



nsswer to that question, for there was 
little time. Already he knew that thai 
tale of his ecape, and his taking over of 
a portion of the Gens of Dal is, must 
hare gone like wildfire through all the 
crater, and from this crater, perhaps, 
had been transmitted to all the craters 
of the Moon. All the craters. . . . 

rr^HAT explained to him the absence 
X from the lake of white flames, 
where he had seen so few, comparative- 
ly, of the people of Dalis' Gens. The 
Moon was honeycombed by such 
craters, and perhaps the white flame 
connected them all, made them all one. 
And Luar commanded all from her 
dais in this crater Sarka and his people 
were escaping. The millions of the 
Gens had been swallowed by. the 
craters of the Moon, at command of 
Loar, acceded to by Dalis — and all over 
the Moon the very things which Sarka 
and Jaska had witnessed were taking 
place. 

Even now, as Sarka raced for the 
tircar, and Jaska with him, he could 
Jeel a backward pulling that was well- 
nigh invincible. Someone was willing 
him to return, willing the Gnomes to 
pursue him, willing the cubes to refuse 
obedience to him; but he laughed and 
Hepped to the aircar, passing by the 
nearest writhing tentacle as though he 
knew it possessed no power to harm 
him. The tentacle swept aside, and did 
not try to bar him, while he sent his 
will crashing against that brightly 
gleaming cube. ' Into the "aircar I We 
enter with you I" 

The cube vanished instantly, and it 
itemed to Sarka that invisible hands 
caught at his feet, lifting him up 
through the trapdoor in the belly of 
the aircar, up and inside. The door 
iwung shut, and in the forward end of 
the vast aircar gleamed the cube which 
bad obeyed his command I 

SARKA sent one thought careening 
outward from the aircar, a com- 
mand to the cubes which stood watch 
beneath the other aircars. 



"Obey the Radiant People, and 
through them, me!" 

The light of the cube made the in- 
terior of the aircar as light as day, and 
Sarka was struck at once with another 
phenomenon.. He could see through the 
sides of the car in any direction. 

And what he saw filled him with a 
sudden fear I 

Out of the crater poured myriads of 
the Gnomes, and up the sides of it 
came myriads of the gleaming cubes, 
all racing toward the cars. 

"Get back! Get backl" he com- 
manded the Gnomes and the cubes. 

At the same time he issued his com- 
mands to the cube within his own car, 
and to the cubes which by now were 
-inside the other aircars, realizing that 
^he cubes themselves were the motive 
power of the aircars — and that his will 
was the will of these individual cubes. 

"Fly at once I Fly outward at top 
speed toward the Earth/' 

Instantly, as though a single signal 
had started all the cars, a dozen air- 
cars rose majestically from thf crater, 
while Sarka studied the Gnomes and 
the cubes in turmoil on the rim. He 
noted then, a strange circumstance: 
that when he commanded the Gnomes 
and the pursuing cubes to keep back, 
they hesitated, dazedly, as though they 
did not know whether to advance Ar to 
retreat; that when he merely watched 
them, they came on. 

HE laughed aloud at this measur- 
ing of mental swords with Luar, 
and with Dalis. For he could sense 
the conflict very plainly. She com- 
manded the Gnomes and the cubes to 
attack, he commanded them to retreat, 
and they remained undecided, like 
people drawn between fwo extremities^ 
and uncertain which direction to take. 

Upward, side by side ■ now, floated 
the aircars of the Moon, and in the 
forepeak of each, one of the gleaming 
cubes, like — like anti-gravitational 
ovoids of the Moont At the fast fall- 
ing rim of the crater boiled the Gnomes 
and the cubes, stirring and tumbling, 



236 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



hampered by their very numbers, as 
they tried to attack at will of Luar and 
retreated in confusion at the will of 
Sarka. 

Then there was Jaska beside Sarka, 
her face fearful, as he pointed off 
across the gloomy expanse of the 
Moon. 

From all sides, from all directions, 
from other craters which these two had 
not even seen, came scores and hun- 
dreds of the monster cars I 

They had beaten Luar and Dalis but 
for a moment, then I Now, at her com- 
mand, the countless other aircars were 
coming in to>head them off, to fight 
them back to the surface of the Moon. 
It would be a race against time, arid 
against death. But of at least a dozen 
«fthe aircars, Sarka was master, and 
he did not fear the issue. /That strange 
exaltation which -the white flames had 
given him filled him with a confidence 
that nothing could shake. 

He shot a thought at the gleaming 
cube in the forepeak. ; 

"Faster! Faster! There is no limit 
to your speed! Faster! Faster! Even 
faster I" 

Instantly the Moon seemed^iterally 
to drop away beneath the dozen air- 
cars which carried the Radiant People, 
.while the aircars of Luar and of Dalis 
fell hopelessly behind. 

Sure that they would win in this race 
now, since he was just beginning' to 
realize the vastness of his power — the 
all-encompassing, all mastering power 
of the human mind and will, which the 
white flames of the Moon had made al- 
most god-like — Sarka turned his eyes 
toward a coldly gleaming sphere in the 
star-spangled heavens ahead. 

IT was the Earth, and it seemed 
ringed in flames! From its edges 
there seemed to shoot long streamers 
of yellow or golden flames, which 
broke into sunlike pinwheels of radi- 
ance at their tips. Something, there on 



the precious Earth, was decidedly 
wrong 1 

Instantly, telepathically, he sought 
to gain mental contact with his father. 

"Father, we are coming!" he said, 
across those countless miles. "What is 
happening?" 

For a full minute there was no an- 
swer. Then it came, feeble, broken, 
weighted with fear; but it was i 
thought-message, unmistakably, of 
Sarka the Second. 

"Hurry, son ! Hurry I For Dalis has 
indeed betrayed us1 I could not main- 
tain control of the JJarth with the 
Beryls, for some strange catastrophe 
has destroyed all the Beryls in the area 
Dalis ruled I The shifting of positions 
of the Earth and the Moon has so al- 
tered the relative effects of the pull of 
gravity exerted by the planets that 
Mars has been brought into dangerous 
proximity to us and is already bo close 
that her ether-lights are playing over 
us I Surely you must be able to see 
them I We have received messages, 
but as yet I have only been partially 
able to decode them ! What I have de- 
coded, however, presages catastrophe— 
for I am sure that Mars and the Moon 
are in confederation, and that the 
Moon-people have deliberately forced 
us into contact with her ally I" 

Cold fear clutched at the throat of 
Sarka as he caught the message. He 
decided not to tell Jaska for the mo- 
ment. He looked to right and left, at 
the aircars on either side of him, then 
issued his commands. 

"Faster! Faster! Be prepared to 
land in the area of the Gens 6f Cleric 
as close as possible to my laboratory I" 

A strange, awesome sight, that flight 
of the rebels of Dalis' Gens from the 
Moon to the Earth — like gleaming 
stars across the void. Far out in Space 
they fled at terrific speed through al- 
most utter darkness, but their light was 
still blinding, lighting the way. 
(Concluded in the next issue) 




The dock was covered witk pamlc-itrickem folk who had come lm aarfwl terror to wmtck. 
And ell were sieves to The Master. 

Murder Madness 

CONCLUSION OF A FOUR-PART NOVEL 

By Murray Leinater 



CHAPTER XV 

THE door of the car swung wide, 
and Ortiz's pale grim face 
peered In behind the blue steel 
barrel of his automatic. He 
smiled queerly as Jamison, with a grunt 
of relief, tapped Bell's wrist in sign to 
put away his weapon. 

"Ah, very well," said Ortiz, with the 
same queer smile upon his face. "One 
moment." 

He disappeared. 
On the instant 
there was the 
thunderous crash- 
ing of a weapon. 
Bell started-^ up, 



Bell has fought through tremendous ob- 
stacle* to find and kill The. Master, whose 
diabolical poiion makes murder - mad 
snakes of the bands; and, as be faces the 
monster al last — his own hands start to 
writhe 1 



but Jamison thrust him back. Then 
Ortiz appeared again with smoke still 
trickling from the barrel of his pistol. 

"I have just done something that I 
have long wished to do," he observed 
coolly. "I have killed the chauffeur 
and his companion. You may alight, 
now. I believe we will have half an 
hour or more. It will do excellently." 

He offered his hand*to Paula as shtf 
stepped out. She seemed to shudder a* 
little as she took 
it. 

"I do not blame 
you for shudder- 
ing, Senorita," he 
said politely, "but 
men who are 



i 



237 



238 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



about to die may indulge in petty 
spites. And the chauffeur was a favor- 
ite with the deputy for whom I am 
substituting. Like all favorites of 
despots, he* had power to abuse, and 
abused it. I could tell you tales, but 
refrain." 

THE car had come to a stop in what 
seeemd to U a huge ywarehousc, 
and by the sound of water round about, 
it was either near/or entirely built out 
over the harbor. A large section near 
the outer end was walled off. Boxes, 
bales, parcels and packages of every 
sort were heaped all about. Bell saw 
crated air engines lying in a row 
against one wall. There were a dozen 
or more of them. Machinery, huge 
cases of foodstuffs. . . . 

"The Buenos Aires depot," said Or- 
tiz almost gaily. "This was the point 
of receipt for all the, manufactured 
goods which went to the fazenda of 
Cuyaba, Senor Bell. Since you de- 
stroyed that place, it has 'not been so 
much used. However, it will serve ex- 
cellently as a tomb. There ate cases 
of hand grenades yonder. I advise you 
to carry a certain number with you. 
The machine-guns for the aircraft, 
with their ammunition, are here. . . ." 

He was hurrying them toward the 
great walled-off space as he talked, his 
automatic serving as a pointer when 
he indicated the various objects. 

."Now, here," he added as he un- 
locked the door, "is your vessel. The 
Master bought only amphibian planes, 
of late. Those for Cuyaba were assem- 
bled In this little dock and took off 
from the water. Your destruction up 
there, Senor Bell, left one quite com- 
plete but undelivered. I think another, 
.crated, is still in the warehouse. I 
have been very busy, but if you can 
fuel and load it before we are at- 
tacked. . . ." 

They were in a roofed and walled 
but floorless shed, built into the ware- 
house itself. Water surged about be- 
low them, and on it floated a five pas- 
senger plane, fully assembled and ap- 



parently ready to fly, but brand new 
and bo far unused. 

"T'LL look it over," said Bell, briefly. 

X He swung down the catwalk 
painted on the wings. He began a swift 
and hasty survey. Soot on the exhaust 
stacks proved that the motors had been 
tried, at least. Everything seemed trim 
and new and glistening in the cabin. 
The fuel tanks showed the barest trace 
of fuel. The oil tanks were full to 
their filling-plugs'. 

He swung back up. 

"Taking a chance, of course," he said 
curtly. "If the motors were all right 
when they were tried, they probably 
are all right now. They may have been 
tuned up, and may not. I tried the 
controls, and they seem to work. For 
a new ship, of course, a man would 
like to go over it carefully, but if we've 
got to hurry. . . ." 

"I think," said Ortiz, and laughed, 
"that haste would be desirable. Herr 
Wiedkind — Not Ami go mio, it was 
that damned Antonio Calles who lis- 
tened to us last night. I found pencil 
marks beside the listening instrument. 
He must have sat there and eaves- 
dropped upon me many weary hours, 
and scribbled as men do to pass the 
time. He had a pretty taste in mono- 
grams. ... I gave all the orders that 
were needful for you to take off from 
the flying field. I even went there my- 
self and gave additional orders. And 
/Calles was there. Also others of The 
Master's subjects. My treason would 
provoke a terrible revenge from The 
Master, so they thought to prove their 
loyalty by permitting me to disclose 
my plan and foil it at its beginning. 

"I would have made the journey with 
you to The Master, but as a prisoner 
with the tale of my treason written 
out. So I returned and changed the 
orders to the chauffeur, when all the 
Master's - loyal subjects were waiting 
at the flying field. But soon it will 
occur to them what I have done. They 
will come here. Therefore, hasten I" 

"We want food," said Bell evenly, 



MURDER MADNESS 



239 



"and anna, but mostly we want fuel. 
We'll get busy." 

HE shed his coat and picked up a 
hand-truck. He rammed it under 
a drum of gasoline and ran itj to the 
walkway nearest to the floating plane. 
Coiled against the. wall there was a 
long hose with a funnel at its upper) 
end. In seconds he had the hose end 
in one of the wing fuel tanks. In sec- 
onds more he had propped the funnel 
into place and was watching the gaso- 
line gurgling down the hose. . - 

"Paula," he said curtly, "watch this. 
When it's empty roll the drum away 
so I can put another in its place." 

She moved quickly beside it, tHrow- 
ing him a little smile. She set ab- 
aorbedly about her task. 

Jamison arrived with another drum 
of gas before the first was emptied, and 
Bell was there with a third while the 
second still gurgled. They heaped the 
full drums in place, and Jamison sud- 
denly abandoned his truck to swear 
wrathfully and tear off his spectacles 
and fling them against the wall. The 
bushy eyebrows and beard peeled off. 
His coat went down. He began to rush 
loads of foodstuffs, arms, and other 
objects to a point from which they 
could be loaded on the plane. Ortiz 
pointed out the things he pantingly 
demanded. 

In minutes, it seemed, he was de- 
manding : "How much can we take? 
Any more than that?" 

"No more," said Bell. "AH the 
weight we can spare goes for fuel. See 
if you can find another hose and fun- 
nel and get to work on the other tank. 
I'm going to rustle oil." 

He came staggering back with heavy 
drums of it. A thought struck him. 

"How do we get out? What works 
the harbor door?" 

ORTIZ pointed, smiling. 
"A button, Senor, and a motor 
does the rest." He looked at his watch. 
"I had better mee if my fellow subjects 
Have come." J 



He vanished, smiling his same queer 
smile. Bell worked frantically. He 
saw Ortiz coming back, pausing to 
light a cigarette, and taking up a 
hatchet, with which he attacked a pack- 
ing case. 

"They are outside, Senor," he called. 
"They have found the signs of the car 
entering, and now are discussing." 

He plucked something carefully 
from the packing bos and went lei- 
surely back toward the door. Bell be- 
gan to load the food., and stores into 
the cabin, with sweat streaming down 
his face. " 

There was. the sound of a terrific ex- 
plosion, and Bell jumped savagely to 
solid ground. 

"Keep loading! I'll hold them back I" 
he snapped to Jamison. 

But when he went pounding to the 
back of the warehouse he found Ortiz 
laughing. 

"A hand grenade, Senor," he said in 
wholly unnatural levity. "Among the 
subjects of The Master. I believe that 
I am going mad, to take such pleasure 
in destruction. But since I am to die 
so shortly, why not go mad, if it gives 
me pleasure?" 

HE peered out a tiny hole and 
aimed his automatic carefully. It 
spurted out all the seven shots that 
were left. 

"The man who poisoned me," he said 
pleasantly. "I think he is dead.. Go 
back and make ready to leave, Senor 
Bell, because they will probably try to 
storm this place soon, and then the po- 
lice will come, and then. ... It is 
amusing that I am the one man to 
whom those enslaved ^mong the city 
authorities would look for The Maa^ 
ter's orders." 

Bell stared out. He saw a small 
horde of people, frantically agitated, 
milling in the cramped and unattrac- 
tive little street of Buenos Aires' wa- 
terfront. Sheer desperation seemed to 
impel them, desperation and a frantic 
fear. They surged forward — and Or- 
tiz flung a hand grenade. Its explo- 



240 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



■ion was terrific, but he had perhaps 
purposely flung it short. Bell suo> 
denly saw police uniforms, fighting a 
way through to the front of the crowd 
and the source of all this disturbance. 

"Go back," said Ortiz seriously. "I 
shall die, Senor Bell. There is nothing 
else for me to do. But I wish to die 
with Latin melodrama." He managed 
a smile. "I will give you ten minutes 
.more. I can hold off the police them- 
selves for so long. But you must 
hasten, because there are police 
launches." 

HE held out hjs hand. Bell took it. 
'(Good luck," said Ortiz. 
"You, can come — " began Bell, 
wrenched by the gaiety on Ortiz's face. 
, "Absurd," said Ortiz, smiling. "I 
'should be murder mad within three 
days. This is a preferable death, I 
assure you. Ten minutes, no more I" 

And Bell went racing back and 
found Jamison rolling away the last 
-of the fuel drums and Paula' looking 
anxiously for him. 

"Tanks full," said Jamison curtly. 
"Everything set. What next?" 
"Engines," said Bell. -e 
He swung down arfl jerked a prop 
over. Again, and again. . . . The mo- 
tor caught. He went plunging to the 
other. Minutes. . . . Vrhey caught. He 
throttled them dow\ to the proper 
warming up roaring, while the air is 
the enclosed space griw foul. 

ONCE more to the warehouse. Or- 
tiz shouted and waved his hand. 
He was filling his pockets with hand 
grenades. Bell made a gesture of fare- 
well and Ortiz seemed to smile as he 
went back to hold the entrance for a 
little longer. 

"We're going," said Bell grimly. 
"Get your guns ready, Jamison, for 
when the door goes up." 

He pressed on the button Ortiz had 
pointed out. ThexeJKere more explo- 
sions and the rattle of firearms from 
the front of the warehouse. There was 
a sudden rumble of machinery and the 



blank front of the little covered dock 
rose suddenly. The sunlit waters of 
Buenos Aires harbor spread out before 
them. To Bell, who had not looked 
on sunlight that day, the effect was 
dazzling. He blinked, and then saw a 
fast little launch approaching. There 
were uniformed figures crowded about 
its bows. 

"All setft" he snapped. "I'm going 
to give her the gun." 

"Go to it," said Jamison. "We're — " 

The motors bellowed and drowned 
out the rest. The plane shuddered and 
began to move. The sound of explo- 
sions from the back of the warehouse 
was loud and continuous, now. Out 
into the bright sunlight the plane 
moved, at first heavily, then swiftly.'). . . 

Bell saw arms waving wildly in the 
launch with the uniformed men. Sun- 
light glittered suddenly on rifle bar- 
rels. Puffs of vapor shot out. Some- 
thing spat through the wall beside Bell. 
But the roaring of the motors kept up, 
and the pounding of the waves against 
the curved bow of the boat-body grew 
more and more violent. . . Sweat 
came out on Bell's face. The ship was 
not lifting. ... / 

BUT it did lift. Slowly, very slow- 
ly, carrying every pound with 
which it could have risen from the wa- 
ter. * It swept past the police launch 
at ninety miles an hour, but no more 
than five feet above the waves. A big, 
clumsy tramp flying the Norwegian 
flag splashed up river with its pro- 
peller half out of water. Bell dared 
to rise a little so he could bank and 
dodge it. He could not rise above it. 

He had one glimpse of blonde, aston- 
ished heads staring over the stqrn of 
the tramp as he swept by it, his wing 
tips level with its rail and barely 
twenty feet away. And^then he<went 
on and on, out to sea. 

He began to spiral for height fully 
four miles offshore, and looked back 
at the sprawling city. Down by the 
waterfront a thick, curling mass of 
smoke was rising from one spot abut- 



MURDER 

ting on the water. It swayed aside and 
Bell saw the rectangular opening out 
of which the plane had come. 

"Ortiz's in there," he said, sick at 
heart. "Dying as he planned." 

But there was a sudden upheaval of 
timbers and roof. A cplossal burst of 
■moke. A long time later the concus- 
sion of a vast explosion. There was 
nothing left where the warehouse had 
been. 

Bell looked, and swore softly to him- 
self, and felt a fresh surge of the ha- 
tred he bore to The Master and all his 
works. And then filmy clouds loomed 
up but a little above the rising plane, 
and Bell shot into them and straight- 
ened out for the south. 

FOR many long_ hours the plane 
floated on to southward, high 
above a gray ocean which seemed de- 
ceptively placid beneath a canopy of 
thin clouds. The motors roared stead- 
ily in the main, though once Bell in- 
structed Jamison briefly in the main- 
tenance of a proper course and height, 
and swung out into the terrific blast of 
air that swept past the wings. He 
clung to struts and handholds and 
made his way out on the catwalk to 
make some fine adjustment in one mo- 
tor, with six thousand feet of empty 
space below the swaying wing. 

"Carbureter wrong," he explained 
when he had closed the cabin window 
behind him again and the motors' roar 
was once more dulled. "It was likely 
to make a lot of carbon In the cylin- 
ders. O. K., now." 

Paula's hand touched his shyly. He 
smiled abstractedly at her and went 
back to the controls. 

And then the plane kept on steadily. 
Time and space have become purely 
relative in these days, in startling 
verification of Mr. Einstein, and the 
distance between Buenos Aires and 
Magellan Strait is great or small, a 
perilous journey or a mere day's travel, 
according to the mind and the trans- 
portation facilities of the voyager. Be- 
fore four o'clock in the afternoon the 



MADNESS > 241 

coast was low and sandy, to the west- 
ward, and it continued sterile and bare 
for long hours while the plane hung 
high against the sky with a following 
wind driving it on vastly more swiftly 
than its own engines could have con- 
trived. 

IT was little before sunset when the 
character of the shore changed yet 
again, and the sun was low behind a 
bank of angry clouds when the stubby 
forefinger of rock that Magellan opti- 
mistically named the ..Cape of the 
Eleven Thousand Virgin* reached up- 
ward from the seemingly- placid water. 
Bell swept lower, then, much lower, 
looking for a landing place. He found 
it eight or nine miles farther on, on 
a wide sandy beach some three miles 
from a lighthouse. The little plane 
splashed down into tumbling sea and, 
half supported by the waves and half 
by the lift remaining to its wings, ran 
for yards up upon the hard packed 
sand. 

The landing had been made at late 
twilight, and Bell moved stiffly when 
he rose from the pilot's seat. 

"I'm going over to that lighthouse," 
he said curtly. "There won't be enough 
men there to be dangerous and- they 
probably haven't frequent cosnmunica- 
tion with the town. I'll learn some- 
thing, anyway. You two stay with the 
plane." 

Jamison lifted his eyebrows and was 
about to speak, but looked at Bell's ex- 
pression and stopped. Leadership is 
everywhere a matter of emotion and 
brains together, and though Jamison 
had his share of brains, he had not 
Bell's corroding, withering passion of 
hatred against The Master and all who, 
served him gladly. An the way down, 
the coast Bell had been remembering 
things he had seen of The Master's 
doing. His power was solely that of 
fear, and the deputies of his selection 
had necessarily been men who would 
spread that terror with an unholy zest. 
The nature of his hold upon his sub- 
jects was such that no honorable bud 



242 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



would ever serve him willingly, and 
for deputies he had need of men even 
of enthusiasm. His deputies, then, 
were men who found int the assigned 
authority of The Master lull scope for 
the satisfaction of their own passions. 
And Bell had seen what those passions 
brought about, and there was a dull 
flame of hatred burning in his eyes 
that would never quite leave them un- 
til those men were powerless and The 
Master dead. 

w ^rOU'LL look after the ship and 
X Paula," said Bell impatiently. 
"All right?" 

Jamison nodded. Paula looked ap- 
pealingly at Bell, but he had become 
a man with an obsession. Perhaps the 
death of Ortiz had cemented it, but 
certainly he was unable to think of 
anything, now, but the necessity of 
smashing the ghastly hold of The Mas- 
ter upon all the folk he had entrapped. 
Subconsciously, perhaps. Bell saw in 
the triumph of The Master a blow to 
all civilization. Less taguely, he fore- 
saw an attempt at the extension df The 
Master's rule to his own nation. But 
when Bell thought of The Master, 
mainly he remembered certain discon- 
nected incidents. The girl at Ribiera's 
luxurious fazenda outside of Rio, who 
had been ordered to persuade him tS 
be her lover, on penalty of a horrible 
madness for her infant son if she 
failed. Of a pale and stricken fazen- 
diero on the Rio Laufengo who thought 
him a deputy and humbly implored the 
grace of The Master for a moody 
twelve year old girl. Of a young man 
who kept his father, murder mad, in 
a barred room in his house and waited 
despairingly for that madness to be 
meted out upon himself and on his wife 
and children. Of a white man who had 
been kept in a cage in Cuyaba, with 
other men. . . . 

BELL trudged on through the deep- 
ening night with his soul a burn- 
ing flame of hatred. He clambered 
amid boulders, guided by the tall light- 



house of Cape Possession with the lit- 
tle white dwelling he had at its base 
before nightfall. He fell, and rose, and 
forced his way on and upward, and 
at last was knocking heavily at a trim 
and neatly painted door. 

He was so absorbed in his rage that 
his talk with the lighthouse keeper 
seemed vague in his memory, after- 
ward. The keeper was a wizened lit- 
tle Welshman from the Chibut who 
spoke English with an extraordinary 
mixture of a Spanish intonation and 
a Cimbrian accent. Bell listened heav- 
ily and spoke more heavily still. At 
the end he went back to the plane with 
a spindle-shanked boy with a lantern 
accompanying him. 

"All settled," he said grimly, when 
Jamison came out into the darkness 
with a ready revolver to investigate 
the approaching light. "We get a boat 
from the lighthouse keeper to go to 
Punta Arenas in. He's a devout mem- 
ber of some peculiar sect, and he's seen 
enough, of the hell Punta Arenas 
amounts to, to believe what I told him 
of its cause. His wife will look after 
Paula, and this boy will hitch a team 
to the plane and haul it out of sight 
early in the morning. With the help 
of God, we'll kill Ribiera and The Mas- 
ter before sunset to-morjpw." 

CHAPTER XVI 

BUT they did not kill The Master 
before nightfall. It was not quite 
practicable. Bell and Jamison started 
out well before dawn with a favorable 
wind and tide, in the small launch the 
wizened Welshman placed at their dis- 
posal. His air was one of dour piety, 
but he accepted Bell's offer of money 
with an obvious relief, and criticized 
his Paraguayan currency with an acid 
frankness until Jamison produced Ar- 
gentine pesos sufficient to pay for the 
boat three times over. 

"I think," said Jamison dryly, "that 
Pau — that Miss Canalejas is safe 
enough until we come back. The 
keeper is a godly man and knows we 



MURDER MADNESS 



243 



have money. SKe'll be In no danger, 
except of her soul. They may try to 
save that." 

Bell did not answer. He could think 
of nothing but the mission he had set 
himself. He tinkered with the engine 
to make it speed up, and set the sails 
with infinite care to take every possi- 
ble advantage of the stiff breeze that 
blew. During the day, those sails 
proved almost as much of- a nuisance 
as a help. The fiendish, sullen willi- 
waws that blow furiously and without 
warning about the Strait required 
watching, and more than once it was 
necessary to reef everything and de- 
pend on the motor alone. 

Bell watched the horizon ahead with 
•mouldering' eyes. Jamison watched 
him almost worriedly. 

"Look here. Bell," he said at last, 
"you'll get nowhere feeling like you 
do. I know you've done The Master 
more damage than I have, but you'll 
just run your head into a trap unless 
you use your brains. For instance, you 
didn't ask about communications. 
There's a direct telegraph wire from 
Cape Virgins to Buenos Aires, and 
there's telephonic communication be- 
tween the Cape and Punta Arenas. Do 
you Imagine that the plane wasn't seen 
when it came in the Cape? And do 
you imagine The Master doesn't know 
we're here?" 

BELL turned, then, and frowned 
blackly. 

"I hadn't thought of it," he said 
grimly, "but I put some hand grenades 
in the locker, there." 

"You damned fool I" said Jamison 
angrily. "Stop being bloodthirsty and 
use your head I You haven't even 
asked what I've done I I've done some- 
thing, anyhow. That bundle I chucked 
in th$ bow has a couple of sheepmen's 
outfits in it. Lots of sheep raised 
around here. We'll put 'em on before 
we land. And like a good general, I 
arranged a method of retreat before 
we left B. Afl There'll be a naval ves- 
sel here in two or three days. She's 



carrying a party of Government scien- 
tists. She'll anchor in 'Punta Arenas 
harbor and announce a case. of some in- 
fectious disease on board. No shore 
leave, you see, and nobody from shore 
permitted on board her. And she has 
one or two damned good analytical 
chemists with a damned good labora- 
tory on board her, too. It's a long gam- 
ble, but if we can get hold of some of 
The Master's poison. . . . < Do you see?" 

"Yes," said Bell heavily. "I see. 
But you haven't been through what 
I've been through. Whajt; I've done, 
fighting that devil, has caused men to 
■be deserted after being enslaved. 
There's one place, Cuyaba. . . ." 

His face twitched. That place was 
in his dreams, now. That place and 
others where human beings had 
watched their bodies go mad, and had 
been carried about screaming with hor- 
ror at the crimes those bodies com- 
mitted. . . . 

"I'm going to kill The Master," be 
rasped. "That's all." 

He settled down to his grim watch 
for the city. All during the cloudy, 
overcast day he strained his eyes ahead. 
Jamison could make nothing of him. 
In the end he had to leave Bell to his 
moody waiting. 

THE morning passed, and midday, 
and a long afternoon. Three times 
Bell came restlessly back to the engine 
and tried to coax more speed out of it. 
But when darkness fell the town was 
still not in sight. They kept on, then, 
steering by the stars with the motor 
putt-putt-putting sturdily away in the 
stem. The water splashed and washed 
all about them. The little boat rose? 
and fell, and rose and fell again. 
"That's the town," said Bell grimly. 
It was eleven at night, or later. 
Lights began to appear, very far away, 
dancing miragelike on the edge of the 
water. They grew nearer with almost 
infinite slowness. Two wide bands of 
many lights, with a darker space in 
which a few much brigjlter lights 
showed clearly. Presently a single red 



244 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



light appeared, the Punta Arenas har- 
bor light, twenty-five feet up on an 
iron pole. They passed it, 

"Bell," said Jamison curtly, "it's 
time you showed some sense, now. 
We're going to find out some things 
'before we get reckless. This town isn't 
a big one, but it always was a hell on 
earth. No extradition from here. It's 
full of wanted men. It's dying, now, 
from the old days when all ships 
passed the Straits before the Panama 
Canal opened up, but It ought to be 
still a hell on earth. And we're going 
to put on these sheepmen outfits,., 1 and 
put up at some b>w caste sailora' and 
sheepmen's hotel on shore, and find out 
what is what. In the morning, if you 
like—" 

"In the morning," said Bell coldly, 
t'I'm going to settle with The Master." 

THEY fpund a small and filthy ho- 
tel, in a still filthier street where 
the houses were alternately black and 
silent and empty, and filled with the 
squalid hilarity most seaport towns can 
somehow manage to support. The 
street lamps were whitt} and cold. The 
dirt and squalor showed the 'more 
plainly by their light. There were 
sailors from the few ships in harbor, 
and women so haggard and bedraggled 
that shrill laughter and lavish endear- 
ments remained their only allure. And 
Bell and Jamison plodded to the reek- 
ing place in which a half-drunk sheep- -j 
man pointed, and there Bell sat grimly 
in the vermin infested room while Jam- 
ison, swearing wryly, went out. 

He came back later, much later. His 
breath was strong of bad whiskey and 
he looked like a man who feels that 
a bath would be very desirable. He 
looked like a man who feels unclean. 

"Give me a cigarette," he said short- 
ly. "I found out most* of what we want 
to know." 

BELL gave him a cigarette and 
waited. 

"Good thing you stayed behind," said 
Jamison. "I want to vomit. Why peo- 



ple go in hell holes for fun. . . . But I 
was very drunk and ,very amorous. 
Picked up a woman and fed her liquor. 
Young, too. Damnation I She got cry- 
ing drunk and told me everything she 
knew. I gave her money aid left. Pun- 
ta Arenas is The Master's, body and 
soul." 

"One could have guessed it," said 
Bell grimly. 

"Nothing like it is," said Jamison. 
"Every living creature, man, woman, 
and child, has been fed that devilish 
poison of his. The "keepers of the dives 
go fawning to his local officials for the 
antidote. The jefe politico is driven 
in his carriage to be cured when red 
spots form before his eyes. The 
damned place is full of suicides, and 
women, and — oh, my God I It's horri- 
ble I" 

A humming, buzzing noise set up off 
in the night somewhere. It kept up 
for a long time, throttled down. Sud- 
denly it seemed to grow louder, 
changed in pitch, arid dwindled as if 
into the far, far distance. 

"That's onjs of The Master's planes 
now, no doubt," said Jamison savagely, 
"going off on some errand for him. He 
uses this place practically as an experi- 
ment station. The human beings here 
are his guinea pigs. The deputies get 
a standardized form of the stuff, but 
he's got it worked out in different 
doses so he can make a man go mad 
in hours, if he chooses, instead of after 
a delay. I don't know how. And The 
Master — " 

HE checked himself sharply. There 
were shuffling footsteps in the 
hall outside. A timid tap on the door. 
Jamison opened it, while^gell dropped 
one hand inconspicuously to a weapon 
inside his shapeless clothing. 

The toothless and filthy old man who 
kept the hotel beamed in at them. 

"Senores," he cackled, "Vdes son de 
Porvenir, no es veidad?" 

Jamison hiccoughed, as one who has 
been out and been drunken ought to 
do. 



MURDER MADNESS 



245 



"No, viejo," he rumbled tipsily, "so- 
mos de la estancia del SeOor Rubio. 
Vaya." >■' 

The old man seemed to mourn that 
they did not come from the sheep 
ranches about Porvenir Bay. But he 
produced a bottle with a shaking hand, 
still beaming. 

"Tengo muchos amigos en Porvenir," 
he chirped amiably, "Y questa bo* 
tella—" 

"Dimela," rumbled Jamison. He 
reached out his hand. 

"No mas que poquitol" said the old 
man, beaming but anxious as Jamison 
tilted it to his lips. "Es risky de gen- 
us " 

He beamed upon Bell, and Bell swal- 
lowed a spoonful and seemed to swal- 
low vastly more. He lay back lazily 
while Jamison in the* part of a tipsy 
aheepherder bullied the old man ami- 
ably and eventually chased him out. 

"You're amused?" asked Jamison 
sardonically, when there were no more 
sounds outside. "Because I said you 
didn't want to meet the young seno- 
rita who loved you when she saw you 
downstairs? Well, Bell, if you used 
your brain you didn't swallow any of 
that stuff." 

Bell started up. Jamison caught him 
by the shoulder. 

"I'm not sure," he said sharply. "Of 
course not. But it's damned funny for 
a Spanish hotel keeper to give some- 
thing for no'thing, even, when he 
teemed just to want to gossip about 
his friends. Here. Drink this water. 
It looks vile enough to take the place 
of mustard. . . ." 

NEXT morning the hotel keeper 
beamed upon them both as they 
went out of the place. A slatternly, 
dark haired girl who leaned on his 
shoulder smiled invitingly at Bell. 
And Bell, in his character of a loutish 
sheepman from one of the ranches that 
' dot the shores of the Strait, grinned 
awkwardly back. But he-went on with 
Jamison. 

"We separate," said Jamison under 



his breath. "We want to find where 
The Master lives, mostly, and then we 
want to find the laboratory where his 
stuff is miked. We don't want to do 
any killing Imtil that's settled. After 
all, the Trade has something to say I" 

Bell nodded indifferently and began 
to wander idly about the streets, turn- 
ing here and there as if moved by noth- 
ing more than the vaguest curiosity. 
But gradually he was working through 
the sections in which the larger build- 
ings stood. Concrete structures, aston- 
ishingly modern, dotted the business 
section. But none of thefh had the air 
that would surround a plpce where a 
man with power of life or death would 
be. In a town the size of Punta Are- 
nas there would be unmistakable evi- 
dences about The Master's residence, 
even if It were only that those who 
passed it did so hurriedly and with a 
twinge of fear. ! 

THERE were prosperous men in 
plenty on the streets, mingled 
with deserting sailors, stockmen and 
farmers from the villages along the 
Strait, and even a few grimy men who 
looked like miners. But there is a 
lignite mine not far from the city, and 
a' narrow gauge railroad running to it. 
Of the prosperous-seeming men, how- 
ever. Bell picked out one here and 
there toward . whom all passersby 
adopted a manner of cringing respect. 
Bell lounged against a pole and studied 
them thoughtfully. Men with an air 
of amused and careless scorn which 
only men with unlimited power may 
adopt. He saw one grossly fat man 
with hard and cruel eyes. The uni- 
formed policemen drove all traffic ab- 
jectly out of the way of his carriage, 
and stood with lifted htt until he had) 
passed. The fat man gave no faintest 4 
sign of acknowledgment. 

"I wonder," said Bell slowly, and 
very grimly, "if that's The Master?" 

And then a passerby dodged quickly 
past his shoulder, brushing against 
him, and waited humbly in the street. 
Bell turned. A party of men were tak- 



246 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



ing up nearly all the sidewalk. There 
were half a dozen of them in all. And 
nearly in the middle was the bulky, 
immaculate, pigmented Ribiera. 

Bell stiffened. But to move, beyond 
clearing the way, would be to attract 
attention. He backed clumsily off the 
curbing as if making way. . . . 

And Ribiera looked at his face. 

BELL'S hand drifted near his hid- 
den weapons But Ribiera looked 
neither surprised nor alarmed. He 
halted and chjickled. 
"Ah, the Senhor Bell!" 
Bell said nothing, looking as stupid 
as possible, merely because there was 
nothing else to do. 

"Ah, do not deny my acquaintance I" 
said Ribiera. He laughed. "I advise 
you to go and look at the view over 
the harbor. Good day, Senhor Bell." 

Laughing, he went off along the 
street.. And Bell felt a cold horror 
creeping over him as he realized what 
Ribiera might mean. Ribiera had en- 
enfirely too much igainst him to greet 
him only, in a town where €ven the 
dogs dared not bark without The Mas- 
ter's express commandr^He had guards 
with him, men who would have shot 
Bell down at a nod from Ribiera. 

Bell burst 'into a mad run for the 
waterfront. When the bay spread 'out 
before his eyes he saw what Ribiera 
meant, and something seemed to snap 
in his brain. 

The plane in which he and Jamison 
and Paula had escaped in was floating 
out in the harbor. It was unmistak- 
able. A larger, bulkier seaplane floated 
beside it. The buzzing in the air the 
night before. The arrival of the 

plane had been telephoned from Cape 
Virgins. Through a glass, perhaps, even 
its alighting had been watched. And 
a big seaplane had gone out to bring 
it back. Footprints in the sand would 
lead toward the lighthouse. There 
would be plenty of men to storm that, 
if necessary, to take the three fugi- 
tives. But they would have found only 
Paula. It was qtiite possible that the 



plane had only been sent for after Bell 
and Jamison had been seen to land in 
Punta Arenas. And Paula in The Mas- 
ter's hands would explain Riblera't 
amusement perfectly. 

BELL found Jamison looking un- 
hurriedly for him. And Jamison 
glanced at his utterly white face and 
said softly : 

"We .want to get where we can't be 
seen, to talk. There's the devil to pay." 

"No use hiding," said Bell. His lips 
seemed stiff. "Paula — " 
' "Hide anyway," snapped Jamison. 
He fairly thrust Bell into an alleyway 
between two houses and thrust two 
rounded objects beneath his loose fit- 
ting coat. "Two grenades. I have two 
more. -The boat we came in is taken — " 
"So is the plane," said Bell emotion- 
lessly. 1 

"And there is a sign, in English, 
posted where we tied it up. The sign 
says, 'The Senores Bell and Jamison 
taay recover their boat on application 
to The Master, and may also receive 
news of a late traveling companion 
from him." 

"We're known," Bell told him — and 
amazingly found it possible to smile 
faintly — "Ribiera met me on the street 
and spoke to me and laughed and 
went on." 

Jamison stared. Bell's manner was 
almost entirely normal again. Then 
Jamison shrugged. 

"The sense of what you're saying," 
he observed wryly, "is that we're 
licked. Let us, then, go to see The 
Master. I confess I feel some curi- 
osity to know just what he's like." 

BELL was f smiling. Being in an 
entirely abnormal state, he had a 
curious certitude of the proper course 
to adopt. He went up to a policeman 
and said politely, in Spanish : 

"I am desired to report to The Mas- 
ter, himself. Will you direct me?" 

The policeman abased himself in- 
stantly and trotted with them as a 
guide. And Bell walked naturally, now, 



MURDER MADNESS 



247 



with his head up and hie shoulders 
back, and smoked leisurely as he went, 
and the policeman's abasement became 
abject. All who walked with that air 
of amused superiority in Punta Are- 
nas were high in the service of The 
Master. Obviously, the two men in 
these dejected clothes must also be 
high in the service of The Master, and 
had adopted their disguise for pur- 
poses into which a mere-policeman and 
a slave of The Master should not dare 
enquire. 

Jamison was rather grim and still. 
Jamison thought he was walking to 
his death. But Bell smiled peculiarly 
and talked almost gaily and — as Jami- 
son thought — almost irrationally. 

THEY came to a house set in a fair- 
ly spacious lawn behind a rather 
high wall. There was greenhouses be- 
hind it, and there were flowers grow- 
ing as well as any flowers can be ex- 
pected to grow in such high altitudes. 
It was an extraordinarily cheerful 
dwelling to be found in Punta Arenas, 
but the shuddering fear with which the 
little policeman removed his hat as he 
entered the gateway was instructive. 

They were confronted by four other 
policemen, on guard inside the gate. 

"Estos Senores — " began the abject 
one. 

"Take us to The M aster " conv 
manded Bell in a species of amused 
and superior scorn. , 

"It is required, Senor," said the 
leader of the four on guard, very re- 
spectfully, "it is required that none 
enter without being searched for 
weapons." 

Bell laughed. 

"Does The Master manage things 
to?" he asked scornfully. "Now, where 
I am deputy no man would dare to 
think of a weapon to be used agaihst 
me! If it is The Master's rule, 
though. . •" 

The policeman cringed. Bell scorn- 
fully thrust an automatic out^ 

"Take it/j he snapped. and 
tell The Master that the Scores Bell 



and Jamison await his pleasure, and 
that they have given up their weapons." 

The policeman scuttled toward the 
house. Bell smiled at his cigarette. 

"Do you know, Bell," said Jamison 
dryly, in English, "I'd hate to play 
poker with you." 

"I'm not bluffing," said Bell. "Not 
altogether. I've a four card flush, with 
the draw to come." 

ALMOST instantly the policeman 
returned, more abject still. He 
had stammered out Bellfs message, just 
as it was given him. And the slaves of 
The Master did not usually disobey 
orders, especially orders designed to 
prevent any danger of a doomed man 
or woman trying to assassinate The 
Master before madness was complete. 
Bell and Jamison were received by liv- 
eried servants in utter silence and con- 
ducted through a long passageway, too 
long to have been contained entirely 
in the house as seen from the front. 
Indeed, they came out into a great 
open greenhouse, in which the smell of 
flowers was heavy. There were flowers 
everywhere, and a benign, small old 
man with a snowy beard and hair, Bat 
at a desk as if chatting of amiable triv- 
ialities with the- frock-coated men who 
Btood about him. The white haired old 
man lifted a blossom delicately to his 
nostrils and inhaled its perfume with 
a sensitive delight. He looked up and 
smiled benignly upon the two. 

It was then that Jamison got a shock 
surpassing all the rest. Bell's hands 
were writhing at the ends of his wrists, 
writhing as if they were utterly be- 
yond his control and as if they were 
longing to rend and tear. ... ► 

And Bell suddenly looked down^at 
them, and his expression was that of 
a man who sees cobras at the ends of 
his arms. 

CHAPTER XVII 

THERE was a long pause! Bell 
was very calm. He seemed to tear 
his eyes from the writhing hands that 



248 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



were peculiarly sansate, as if under 
the control of an intelligence alien to 
his own. 

"I believe," said Bell steadily, "that 
The Master wishes to speak to me." 

With an apparent tremendous effort 
of will, he thrust his hands into his 
pockets. Jamison cursed softly. Bell 
had taken the direction of things en- 
tirely out of his hands. It only re- 
mained *o play up. 

"To btture," said a mild, benevolent 
voice. The man with- the snowy beard 
regarded Bell exactly in, the fashion 
of an elderly philanthropist. "I am 
The Master, Senor Bell. You have in-' 
terested me greatly. I have grown to 
have a great admiration for you. Will 
you be seated? Your companion also 
pleases me. I would like" — and the 
mild brown eyes beamed at him — "I 
would like to have your friendship, 
Senor Bell." ' 

"Pull out a chair for me, Jamison," 
said Bell in ar strained voice. "And — 
I'd like to have a cigarette." 

Jamison, cursing under his breath, 
put a chair behind Bell and stuck a 
cigarette between his lips. He held a 
match, though his hands shook. 

"You might sit down, too," said Bell 
steadily. "From the manner of The 
Master, I imagine that the conversa- 
tion will take some time." / 

HE inhaled deeply? of his cigarette, 
and faced the little man again. 
And The Master looked so benevolent 
that he seemed absolutely cherubic, 
and there was absolutely no sign of 
anything but the utmost sunttfhess 
about him. His eyes were clear and 
mild. His complexion was fresh and 
translucent. The wrinkles that showed 
upon his face were those of an amiable 
and a serene soul filled with benevo- 
lence and charity. He looked like one 
of those irritatingly optimistic old 
gentlemen who habitually carry small 
coins and stray bits of candy in their 
pockets for such small children as 
they may converse with under the smil-. 
ing eyes of nurses. 



"Ah, Senor Bell," he said gently. 
"You do cause me to admire you. May 
I see your hands again?" 

Bell held them out. He seemed to 
have conquered their writhing to some 
extent. But he could not hold them 
quite still. Sweat stood out on his 
forehead. He thrust them abruptly 
out of sight again. 

"Sad," said The Master gently. 
"Very sad." He sighed faintly and laid 
down the rose he had been toying with. 
His fingers caressed the soft petals 
delicately. "Fortunately," he said be- 
nevolently, "it is not yet too late for 
me to relieve the strain under which 
you labor, Senor. May I said for a 
certain medicine which will dispose of 
those symptoms in a very short time ?" 

"We'll talk first," said Bell harshly. 
"I want to hear what you have to say." 

THE Master nodded, his fingers 
touching the rose petals as if in 
a sensitive pleasure in their texture. 

"Always courageous," he said be- 
nignly. "I admire it while I combat 
it. But the Senor Jamison. . . ." 

Jamison had been looking fascinat- 
edly at his own hands, opening and 
closing the fingers with a savage ab- 
ruptness. They obeyed him, though 
they trembled. 

"I didn't drink the damned stuff that 
hotel keeper brought us last night," he 
growled. "Bell did. And I — " 

"Wait a minute, Jamisdn," said Bell 
evenly. "Let's talk to The Master for 
a while. I swore, sir," he said grimly, 
"that I'd kill you. I've seen what your 
devilish poison does, in .the hands of 
the men you've chosen to distribute it. 
I've seen" — he swallowed and said 
harshly — "I've seen enough to make me 
desire nothing so much as to see you 
roast in hell I But you wanted to talk 
to me. Go ahead 1" 

THE Master beamed at him, and 
then glanced about at the frock- 
coated men who had been attending 
him. Bell glanced at them. Ribiera 
was there, chuckling. 



MURDER MADNESS 



249 



'1 told you, tio mi'o," he said famil- 
iarly, "that he would not be polite. 
You can do nothing with him. Better 
have him shot." 

Francia, of Paraguay, nodded amus- 
edly to Bell as their eyes met. But 
The Master shook his really rather 
beautiful head. An old man can be 
good to look at, and with a 'saintly 
aureole of snow-white hair anjd the 
patriarchal whi$e beard, The Master 
was the picture of benign and beau- 
tiful old age. 

"Ah, you do not understand," he pro- 
tested mildly. "The more the Senor 
Bell showasfais courage, hijo mio, the 
more we must persuade him." He 
turned to Bell. "I realize," he said 
gently, "that there are hardships con- 
nected with the administration of my 
power, Senor. It is inevitable. But 
the Latin races of the continent which 
is now nearly mine require strong han- 
dling. They require a strong man to 
lead them. They are comfortable only 
under despotism. The task I have 
chosen for you is different, entirely. 
Los Americanos del Norte will not re- 
spond to the treatment which is neces- 
sary for those del Sad. Their govern- 
ments, their traditions, are entirely un- 
like. 1 If you become my deputy and 
viceroy for all your nation, you shall 
rule as you will. A benevolent, yet 
strong, rule is needed for your people. 
It may even be — I will permit it — that 
the democratic institutions of your na- 
tion may continue if you so desire. I 
am offering you, Senor, the position of 
the absolute ruler of your nation. You 
may interfere with the present govern- 
ment not at all, if you choose, provided 
only that my own commands are 
obeyed when relayed through you. I 
choose you because you have courage, 
and resource, and because you have the 
Yanqui cleverness which will under- 
stand your nation and cope with it." 

BELL inhaled deeply. 
"In other words," he said bit- 
terly, "you're saying indirectly that 
you offer me a chance to be the sort 



of ruler Americans will submit to with- 
out too much fuss, because you think 
one of Ribiera's stamp would drive 
them to rebellion. „ 

The fine dark eyes twinkled. 

"You have, much virtue, Senor. My 
nephew — though he is to be my suc- 
cessor — has a weakness for a pretty 
face. Would you prefer that I give 
him the task of subduing your nation ?" 

"You might try it," said Bell. His 
eyes gleamed. "He'd be dead within 
a week." 

The Master laughed softly. 

"I like you, Senor. I do like you in- 
deed. I have not been bo defied since 
another Americano del Norte defied 
me in this same room. But he had not 
your resource. He had been enslaved 
with much less difficulty than your- 
self. I do not remember what hap- 
pened to him. ..." *\ 

"He was taken, Master^ said a fat 
man with hard eyes, obsequiously, "he 
was taken in Bolivia." It was the man 
whom Bell had seen earlier that morn- 
ing in a carriage. "You gave him to 
me. He had insulted me when I or- 
dered him sent to you. I had him 
killed, but he was very obstinate." I 

"Ah, yes," said The Master medita- 
tively. "You told me the details." He 
seemed to recall small facts in benevo- 
lent retrospection. "But you, Senor 
Bell, I have need of you. In fact, I 
shall insist upon your friendship. And 
therefore — " . 

He beamed upon Bell. 

"I give you back the Senorita Cana- 
lejas." 

HE shook his head reproachfully at 
the utterly grirrt look in Bell's 
eyes. v 

"I shall give you one single portion 
of the antidote to the medicine which 
makes your hands behave so badly. 
You may take it when you please. The 
Senor Jamison I shall keep and en- 
slave. I do not think he will be as 
obstinate as you are, but he has ex- 
cellent qualities. If yfcu prove obdu- 
rate, I may yet persuade him to under- 



250 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



take certain tasks for me. But you 
and the Senorita Canalejas are free. 
Your boat has been rcprovisioned and 
provided with fuel. You may go from 
here where you will.' ; 
Ribiera snarled. 

"Tio mio," he protested angrily, "you 
promised me — " 

"Your will in many things," said 
The Master gently, "but not in alL 
Remember that you have much to learn, 
hijo mio. I have taught you to pre- 
pare my little medicine, it is true. 
That is so you can take my place if 
age infirmity shall carry me away." 1 
The Master folded his hands with an 
air of pious resignation. "But you 
must learn policy. The Senorita Cana- 
lejas belongs to the Senor Bell." 

Jamison was staring, now, but Bell's 
eyes had narrowed to mere slits. 

"You see," said The Master gently, 
to him, 'II desire your friendship. You 
may go where you will. You may take 
the Senorita Canalejas with you. You 
will have enough of the antidote to my 
little medicine to keep you sane for 
perhaps a week. In one week you may 
go far, with her. ^Ifou may do many 
things. But you cannot find' a place 
of safety for her. I still have a little 
power, Senor. If you take her with 
you, your hands will writhe again. 
Your Body will become uncontrollable. 
Your eyes, staring and horror-struck, 
will observe your own hands rending 
her. While your brain is yet sane you 
will see this body of yours which now 
desires her so ardently, tearing at and 
crushing that delicate figure, gouging 
out her eyes, battering her tender flesh, 
destroying her. . . . Have you ever seen 
what a man who has taken my little 
medicine does to a human being at his 
mercy?" 

THE figures about The Master were 
peculiarly tense. The fat man with 
the hard eyes laughed suddenly. It 
was a horrible laugh. Francia of Para- 
guay took out his handkerchief and 
delicately wiped his lips. He was 
smiling. Ribiera looked at Bell's face 



V 1 * 



and chuckled. His whole gross figure 
shook with his amusement. 

"And of course," said The Master 
benignly, "if you prefer to commit 
suicide, if you prefer to leave her here 
— well, my nephew knows little expe- 
dients to reduce her will to compliance. 
You recall Yague, among others." 

Bell's face was a white mask of hor- 
ror and fury. He tried to spiak, and 
failed. He raised his hand to his throat 
— and it tore at the flesh, insanely. 

"Let — let me see her," croaked Bell, 
as if strangling. 
Jamison stiffened. - Bell seemed to 
trying to get his hands into his 
'pockets. They were apparently uncon- 
trollable. He thrust them under hit 
coat as there was a stirring at the door, 
i 

AND Paula was brought in, as if 
she had been waiting. She was 
entirely colorless, but she smiled at 
Bejl. She came quickly to his side. 

"I heard," she said in a clear and 
even little voice. "We will go to- 
gether, Charles. If there is a week in 
which we can be together, it will be 
so much of happiness. And when you 
are — The Master's victim, we will let 
the little boat sink, and sink with it. 
I do not wish to live without you, 
Charles, and you do not wish to live 
as his slave." 

Bell gave utterance to a sudden 
laugh that was like a bark. His hands 
came out from under his coat. Dan- 
gling from each one was a small, pear- 
shaped globule of metal. A staff pro- 
jected upward from each one, and he 
held those staffs in his writhing hands. 
About each wrist was a tiny loop of 
cord that went down to a pin at the 
base of the staffs. 

"Close to me, Paula," he said coldly. 
She clung to his arm. He moved for- 
ward, with half-a-dozen revolver muz- 
zles pointed at his breast. 

"If one of you damned fools fires,'' 
he said harshly, "I'll let go. When I 
let go — these are Mills grenades, and 
they go off in three seconds after they 
leave the hand. Stand still I" 



MURDER MADNESS 



251 



THERE was a terrible, frozen si- 
lence. Then a movement from be- 
hind Bell. Jamison was rising with a 
grunt 

"Some day, Bell," he observed cool- 
ly, "I'll be on to all of your curves. 
This is the best one yet But you're 
likely to let go at any second, aren't 
you?" 

"Like hellf raged Bell. "I drank 
some of your poison," he snarled at 
The Master. "Yes I I was fool enough 
to do it I But I took what measures 
any man will take who finds he's swal- 
lowed poison. I got it out* of my 
stomach at once. And if you or one 
of these deputies tries to move. . . ." 

Ribiera had blanched to a pasty gray. 
The Master was frozen. But Bell saw 
Ribiera's eyes move in swift calcula- 
tion. There was a «olid wall behind 
The Master. It seemed as if the green- 
house were a sort of passageway be- 
tween two larger structures. And there 
was a door almost immediately behind 
Ribiera. Ribiera glanced right — left — 

He flung himself through that door. 
He knew the secret of The Master's 
power. He was The Master's appointed 
successor. If The Master and all his 
deputies died, Ribiera. . . 

But Bell snapped into action like a 
bent spring released. His arm shot 
forward. A grenade went hurtling 
through the door through which Ri- 
biera had fled. There was an instan- 
taneous, terrific explosion. The solid 
wall shook and shivered and, with a 
vast deliberation, collapsed. The green- 
house was full of crushed plaster dust. 
Panes of glass shivered. . . . 

But Bell was upon The Master. He 
had struck the little man down and 
■tood over him, his remaining auto- 
matic replacing the grenade he had 
thrown. 

"Ribiera's dead," he snapped, "and 
if I'm shot The Master dfes too and 
you all go mad I Stand back I" 

The deputies stood frozen.' 

"I think," said Jamison composedly, 
"I take a hand now. I'll pick him up, 
Bell. . . . Right. I've got him. With 



a grenade hanging down his back. If 
he jerks away from me, or I from him, 
it will blow his spine to bits." 
"Hold him ,so," said Bell coldly. 

HE went coolly to where he couM 
look over the heap of the col- 
lapsed wall. He saw a bundle of torn 
clothing that had been a man. It was 
flung against a cracked and tottering 
chimney. , 

"Right," he spid evenly. "Ribiera's 
dead, all right 

He turned to the deputies, whose 
revolvers were still in their hands. 

"The Master's carriage; please," he 
said politely. "To the door. You may 
accompany us if you please, but in 
other carriages. I am working for the 
release of all the Master's slaves, and 
you among them if you choose. But 
you can see very easily that there is 
no hope of the release of The Master 
without the meeting of my terms." 

The Master spoke, softly and mildly, 
and without fear. 

"It is my order that the Senor Bell 
is to be obeyed. I shall return. You 
need have no fear of my death. My 
carriage." 

A man went stiffly, half-paralyzed 
with terror, to where chattering scared 
servants were grouped in the awful 
fear that came upon, the slaves of The 
Master at any threat to his rule. 

But Bell and Paula and Jamison 
went slowly and cautiously — though 
they held the whip hand — to the en- 
trance door of the house, and out to 
the entrance gate. A carriage was 
already before the door when they 
reached it, and others were drawing up 
in a line behind it. 

"Get in," said Bell briefly. "Down 
to the waterfront." 9 } 
He turned to the group of frocEi 
coated, stricken men who had followed. 

"Some of you men," he said coldly, 
"had better go on ahead and warn the 
police and the public generally about 
the certainty of The Master's death if 
any attempt is made to rescue him." 
Francia, of Paraguay, summoned a 



252 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



swagger and raised his hand to the sec- 
ond carriage. It drew in to the curb. 

"I will attend to it, Senor Bell," he 
said politely. "Ah, when I think that 
I once raised my revolver to shoot you, 
and refrained I" 

He drove off swiftly. 

BELL'S eyes were glowing. He 
got into the carriage, and such a 
procession drove through the streets 
of Punta Arenas as has rarely moved 
"through the streets of any city in the 
world. The long line of carriages 
moved at a funereal pace amid a surg- 
ing, terrified mob. The Master beamed 
placidly as he looked out over white, 
starkly - agonized faces. Some of the 
people groaned audibly. A few cursed 
The Master in their despair. More 
cursed Bell, not daring to strike or fire 
on him But he would have been torn 
to bits if he had stepped from the car- 
riage for an instant. * ( 

"Bell," /said Jamison dryly, "consid- 
ering that I'm prepared to be blown 
apart on three seconds notice, it is pe- 
culiar that this mob frightens me." 

The Master's eyes twinkled benignly. 
He seemed totally insensible to fear. 

"You need not be> afraid," Jje said 
gently. "They will not touch you un- 
less I order them." 

Jamison stared down at the little 
man whose collar he held firmly, with 
a Mills grenade dangling down at the 
base of his neck. 

"I wouldn't order them to attack, if 
I were you," he said coldly. "I haven't 
Bell's brains, but I have just as much 
dislike for you as he has." 

THEY came to the harbor. Bell 
spoke zgain. 
"The carriage is to drive out to the 
end of one of the docks, and uo one 
else is to go out on that dock." 

The Master relayed the order in his 
mild voice, but as the coachman obeyed 
him he clucked his tongue commiser- 
atingly. 

"Senor Bell,'' he protested gently. 
"You do not expect to escape I Not 



after killing me I Why that is absurd P 

Bell said nothing. He alighted from 
the carriage, his face set grimly, and 
stared ashore at the long, long row of 
'terrified faces staring out at him The 
whole waterfront seemed to be lined 
with staring faces. WaQs came from 
that mass of enslaved human beings. 

"Hold him here, Jamison," he said 
drearily. "I'm going out to look at thit 
big plane. There's a rowboat tied to 
the dock, here." 

He swung down the side into the 
dock and rowed off into the harbor, 
while the horses attached to The Mat- 
ter's carriage pawed impatiently at 
the wooden flooring of the dock. Bell 
reached the two planes anchored on 
the still harbor water. The smaller one 
had brought them down from Buenos 
Aires. The larger one had gone after 
the beached amphibian and brought it 
and Paula on to the city. Bell, from 
the shore, was seen to be investigating 
the larger one. He came rowing back. 

His head appeared above the dock 
edge. 

"All right" he said tiredly. "The 
Master has a rule requiring all hit 
ships ready for instant flight Very 
useful. The big plane is fueled and 
full of oil. We'll go out to it and take 
off." 

JAMISON lifted The Master to his 
feet and with-' a surge of muscles 
swept him down' to the flooring of the 
dock. 

"Paula first," jaid Bell, "and then 
The Master, and' then you, Jamison." 

"One moment,"! said The Master re- 
proachfully. "It would be ofuel. not 
to let me reassure my subjects. I will 
give an order." , 

Bell and Jamison listened suspi- 
ciously. But hei spoke gently to the 
coachman. 

"You will tell the deputies," said 
The Master in Spanish, "that a month's 
supply of medicine for all my subjects 
will be found in] my laboratory. And 
you may tell them that I shall return 
before the end at that 11106." 



MURDER MADNESS 



253 



The coachman's eyes filled with a 
passionate relief. 

"Now," said The Master placidly, 
"I am ready for our little jaunt." 

Paula descended the ladder and seat- 
ed herself in the bow of the boat. Bell 
covered—The Master grimly with his 
automatic as he descended, with sur- 
prising agility. Jamison came down 
last, and resumed his former grip on 
The Master's collar. Bell rowed out 
to the big plane. 

JAMISON kept close watch while 
Bell started the four huge motors 
and throttled them down to warming 
up speed, and while he hauled up the 
anchor with which the huge seaplane 
was anchored. 

The dock was covered with a swarm 
of panic stricken folk. Everywhere, 
all the inhabitants of the city who were 
slaves to The Master had come in 
awful terror to watch. And all the 
inhabitants of the. city were slaves to 
The Master. Some of them fell to 
their knees and held out imploring 
arms to Bell, begging him for mercy 
and the return of The Master. Some 
cursed wildly. 

But, with his jaws set grimly, Bell 
gave the motors the gun. 

The big plane moved heavily, then 
more swiftly through the water. It 
lifted slowly, and rose, and rose, and 
dwindled to a speck high in the air. 

And all through the streets and ways 
of Puma Arenas, fear stalked almost 
as a tangible thing. Panic hovered 
over the housetops, always' ready to 
descend. Terror was in the air that 
every man breathed, and every, human 
being looked at every other human be- 
ing with staring, haunted eyes. Punta 
Arenas was waiting for its murder 
madness to begin. 

CHAPTER XVIII 

THERE were four motors to pull 
the big plane through the air, and 
their roaring was a vast thundering 
noise which the earth reechoed. But 



inside the cabin that tumult was re- 
duced to a riot intolerable humming 
sound. 

"What'U I do with this devil. Bell?" 
asked Jamison. "Now that we're aloft, 
I confess this grenade makes me ner- 
vous. I'm holding it so tightly my fin- 
gers are getting cramped. 

"Tie him up," said Bell, without 
looking. "He'll talk presently." 

Movements. The plane flew on, 
swaying slightly in the way of big sea- 
planes everywhere. A willjwaw began 
in the hills ahead and swept out and 
set the ship to reeling crazily in its 
erratic currents. The Strait vanished 
and there were tumbled .hills below 
them. Minutes passed. Y 

"Cot him fixed up," said Jamison 
coolly. "I'll guarantee he won't break 
loose. Cot any plans. Bell?" 

"No time," said Bell. "I haven't had 
time to make any. The first thing is 
to get where his folk will never find 
us. Then we'll see what we can do 
with him." 

Paula looked at the now bound fig- 
ure of The Master. And the little old 
man beamed at her. 

"He — he's smiling I" said Paula, in a 
voice that was full of a peculiar horri- 
fied shock. 

BELL shrugged. Punta Arenas was 
all of twenty-five miles behind, 
and the earth over which they flew be- 
gan to take on the shape of an island. 
Water appeared beyond it, and innu- 
merable small islands. Bell began to 
rack his brain for the infinitesimal 
scraps of knowledge he had about this 
section of the world. It was pitifully 
scanty. Punta Arenas was the south- 
ernmost point of the continental mass. 
All about it was an archipelago and a 
maze of waterways, thinly inhabited 
everywhere and largely without any 
inhabitants at all. The only solid' 
ground between Cape Horn and the 
Antarctic ice pack was Diego Ramirez 
and the South Shetlands. . . . 

Nothing to go on. But any suffi- 
ciently isolated and desolate spot 



254 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



.would do. Almost anywhere along the 
southern edge of the continental is- 
lands should serve. 

The plane roared on monotonously, 
while Bell began to wrestle with an- 
other and more serious problem. In 
three days — two, now — an American 
naval vessel would turn up, with scien- 
tists and chemists on board. It was to 
be doubted whether anything like an 
overt act would be risked by that ves- 
sel. If all the governments of South 
America were under The Master's 
thumb, then cabled orders from his 
deputies would race three navies to 
the spot. And the government of the 
United States does not like to start 
war, anywhere. Certainly it would not 
willingly enter into a conflict with the 
whole southern continent for the solu- 
tion of a probjem that bo far affected 
that continent alone. The Master's kid- 
napping had solved nothing, so far. 

JAMISON tapped his shoulder. 
"No pursuit, so far," he observed 
coolly. "I've looked." Bell nodded 

"They ^don't dare. N6t yet, anyhow. 
They're depending on The Master. 
How is he?" 

"Smiling peacefully to himself, damn 
him I" snarled Jamison. "Do you know 
what we're up against?" 

"Ourselves," said<J)cll coldly. "But 
I'm nearly lickedf He's got to^talk 1" 

Jamison moved away again. The 
earth below looked as if it had been 
torn toashreds in some titanic convuU 
sion of ages past. The sea was every- 
where, and so was land. There were 
little threads of silver interlacing 4nd 
crossing and wavering erratically in 
every conceivable direction. And there 
were specks, of islands — rocks only 
yards in extent — and islands of every 
imaginable size and shape, with their 
surfaces in every possible state of up- 
heaval and distortion. A broader mass 
of land appeared ahead and to the left. 

"Tierra del Fuego again," muttered 
Bell. "If we cross it. . . ." 

For fifteen minutes the plane thun- 
dered across desolate, rocky hills. 



T^ien the maze ( of islets again. Bel] 
scanned them keenly, and saw' a tiny 
steamer traveling smokily, for no con- 
ceivable reason, among the scattered 
bits of stone. The sea appeared, 
stretching out toward infinity. 

Bell rose, to survey a wider space. 
He swung to the left, so that he was 
heading nearly southeast, and went on 
down toward that desolation of deso- 
lations, the stormy cape which faces 
the eternal ice of the antarctic. He 
.was five thousand feet up, then, and 
scanning sea and earth and sky. . . . 

And suddenly he swung sharply to 
the right and headed out toward the 
open sea. He felt a small figure press- 
ing against his shoulder. Presently 
fingers closed tightly upon his sleeve. 
He glances! down at Paula and, man- 
aged to smile. 

'There are some rocks out there," he 
told her quietly. "Islands, I think, and 
Diego Ramirez, at a guess." 

THEY were specks, no more, but 
they were ' vastly more distinct 
from the plane than from Mount Beau- 
foy. That is on Henderson Island in 
New Year Sound, and its seventeen- 
hundred-foot peak was almost below 
Bell when he sighted the islands. But 
the islands have been seen full fifty 
miles from there. 

It took the plane nearly forty min- 
utes to cover the space, but long before 
that the islands had become distinct 
Two tiny groups of scattered rocks, 
the whole group hardly five , miles in 
length and by far the greater number 
no more than boulders surrounded by 
sheets of foam from breakers. Two of 
them merited the name of islands. The 
nearer was high and bare and precipi- 
tous. No trace of vegetation showed 
upon it. The farther was smaller, and 
at is northern corner a little cove 
showed, nearly land-locked. 

Bell descended steeply. The big 
plane plunged wildly in the air eddies 
about the taller island at five hundred 
feet, but steadied and went winging 
on down lower, and lower. . . . The 



MURDER MADNESS 



355 



waves between the two islands were 
not nigh, but the seaplane alighted 
with a mighty, a tremendous splashing, 
ind Bell navigated it grimly though 
clumsily into the mouth of the cove. 
There a small beach showed. He went 
very slowly toward it. Presently he 
iwung abruptly about. A wing tip 
float grounded close to the shore. 

The motors cut off and left a thun- 
derous silence. Bell climbed atop the 
cabin and let go the anchor. 

"We're here," he said shortly. "Bring 
The Master and we'll go ashore." 

THE catwalk painted on the lower 
wing guided them. Bell jumped 
to the rocks first, and stumbled, and 
then rose to lift Paula down* and take 
The Master's small, frail body from 
Jamison's arms. 
"You looked for a gun?" asked Bell. 
"He'd nothing to fight with," said 
Jamison heavily. He had been facing 
the same problem Bell had worked on 
desperately, and had found no answer. 
But he shuddered a littte as he looked 
about the island. 

There was nothing in sight but rock. 
No moss. No lichens. Not even 
stringy grass or the tufty scrub bushes 
that seemed able to grow anywhere. 

Bell untied The Master, carefully 
but without solicitude. The little man 
ait up, and brushed himself off care- 
fully, and arranged himself in a com- 
fortable position. 

"I am an old man," said The Mas- 
ter in mild reproach. "You might at 
least have given me a cushion to sit 
upon." 

Bell sat down and lighted a ciga- 
rette with fingers that did not tremble 
in the least. 

"Suppose," he said hardly, «"you talk. 
First, of what your poison is made. 
Second, of what the antidote is made. 
Third, how we may be sure you tell 
the truth." 

THE MASTER looked at him with 
bright, shrewd, and apparently 
kindly old eyes. 



"Hijo mio," he said mildly, "I am an 
old man. But I am obstinate. I will 
.tell you nothing." 

Bell's eyes glowed coldly. . 

"Does it occur to you," he asked 
grimly, "that it's too important a mat- 
ter for us to have any scruples about? 
That we can — and will — make you 
talk?" 

"You may kill me," said The Master 
benignly, "but that is all." 

"And," said Bell, still more grimly, 
"we have only to get back in the plane 
yonder, and go away. . . ." 

The Master beamed at him. Pres- 
ently he began to laugh softly. 

"Hijo mio" he said gently, "let us 
stop this little byplay. You will take 
me back in my airplane, and you will 
land me at Punta Arenas. And then 
you will fly away. I concede, you free- 
dom, but that is all. You cannot leave 
me here." 

"Paula," said Bell coldly, "get in the 
plane again. Jamison — " 

Paula rose doubtfully. Jamison 
stood up. The Master continued to 
chuckle amiably. 

"You see," he said cherubically, "you ' 
happen to be a gentleman, Senor BelL 
Every man has some weakness. That 
is yours. And you will not leave me 
here to die, because you have killed 
my nephew, who was the only other 
man who knew how to prepare my lit- 
tle medicine. And you know, Senor, 
that all my subjects will wish to die. 
Those who do, in fact," he added mild- 
ly, "will be fortunate. The effect of 
my little medicine does not make for 
happiness without its antidote." 

BELL'S hands clenched. 
"You know," said The Master 
comfortably, "that there are many thou- 
sands of people whose hands will 
writhe, very soon. The city of Punta 
Arenas will be turned into a snarling 
place of maniacs within a very little 
while — if I do not return. Would you 
like, Senor, to think in tftcr days of 
that pleasant city filled with men and 
women tearing each other like beasts? 



256 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



Of little children, even, crouching, and 
crushing and rending the tender flesh 
of other little children? Of lisping 
little ones gone — " 

"Stop I" snarled Bell, in a frenzy. 
"Damn your soul I You're right I I 
can't I You win — so far I" 

"Always," said The Master benevo- 
lently. "I win always. And you for- 
get, Senor. You have seen the worst 
side of my rule. The revolutions, the 
rebellions that have made men free, 
were they pretjy thi^igB to watch? Al- 
ways, ami go, the worst comes. But 
when my rule is secure, then you shall 
see." 

HE waved a soft, beautifully 
formed hand. From every possi- 
ble aspec/t the situation was a contra- 
diction of all reason. The bare, black, 
salt encrusted rocks with no trace of 
vegetation showing. The gray water 
rumbling and surging among the un- 
even rocks at the base of the shore, 
while gulls screamed hoarsely over- 
head. The white haired little man with 
his benevolent face, smiling confident- 
ly at the two grim jrien. 

"The time will come," said The Mas- 
ter gently, and in the tone of utter 
confidence with which one statesman 
inescapable fact, "the time will come 
when all the earth will know my rule. 
The taking of my little medicine will 
be as commonplace a thing as the 
smoking of tobacco, which I abhor, 
Senores. You are mistaken about there 
being an antidote and a poison'. It is 
one medicine only. One little com- 
pound. A vegetable substance, Senor 
Bell, combined with a product of mod- 
ern chemistry. It is a synthetic drug. 
Modern chemistry is a magnificent sci- 
ence, and my little medicine is its 
triumph. Even my deputies have not 
heard me speak so, Senores." 

Bell snarled wordlessly, but if one 
had noticed his eyes they would have 
been seen to be curiously cool and alert 
and waiting. The Master leaned for- 
ward, and for once spoke seriously, 
almost reverently. 



"There shall be a forward step, Se- 
nores, in the race of men. Do yog 
know the difference between the brain 
of a man and that of an anthropoid 
ape? It consists only of a filmy layer 
of cortex, a film of gray nerve cells 
which the ape has not. And that little 
layer creates the difference between 
ape and man. And I have discovered 
more. My little medicine acts upon 
that film. Administered in the tiny 
quantities I have given to my slaves, 
it has no perceptible effect. It it 
merely a compound of a vegetable sub- 
stance and a synthetic organic base. It 
is not excreted from the body. like 
lead, it remains always in solution in 
the blood. But in or out of the blood 
it changes, always, ' to the substance 
which causes murder madness. Fresh 
or changed, my little medicine acts up- 
on the brain." 

HE smiled brightly upon them. 
"But though in tiny quantities 
it has but little effect, in larger qua- 
ties — when fresh it makes the func- 
tioning of the gray cells of the human 
brain as far superior to the unmcdi- 
cated gray cells, as those human gray 
cells are to the white cells of the apet 
That is what I have to offer to the hu- 
man race t Intelligence for every man, 
which shall be as the genius of the 
past I" 

He laughed softly. 
"Think, Senores I Compare the estate 
of men with the estate of apes I Com- 
pare the civilization which will arise 
upon the earth when men's brains are 
as far above their present level as the 
present level is above the anthropoid! 
The upward steps of the human race 
under my rule will parallel, will sur- 
pass the advance from the brutish 
caveman to intellectual genius. But I 
have seen, Senores, the one danger in 
my offering." 

There was silence. Jamison shook 
his head despairingly. The Master 
could not see him. He formed the 
word with his lips. 
"Crazy I" 



MURDER MADNESS 



257 



BUT Bell skid coldly: 
"Go on." 

"I must rule," said The Master so- 
berly. "It is essential. If my little 
secret were known, intelligences would 
be magnified, but under many flags and 
with many aims. Scientists, with ge- 
nius beside which Newton's pales, 
would seek out deadly weapons for 
war. The world would destroy itself 
of its own genius. But under my 
rule — " 

"Men go mad," said Bell coldly. 

The Master smiled reproachfully. 

"Ah, you are trying to make me 
angry, so that I will betray something! 
You are clever, Senor Bell. With my 
little medicine, in snch quantities as I 
would administer it to you. . . ." 

"You describe it," said Bell harshly 
and dogmatically, "as a brain stimu- 
lant. But it drives men mad." 

"To be sure," said The Master mild- 
ly. "It does. It is not excreted from 
the body save very, very slowly. But 
it changes in the blood stream. As — 
let ub say — sugar changes into alcohol 
in digestion. The end-product of my 
little medicine is a poison which at- 
tacks the brain. But the slightest bit 
of unchanged medicine is an antidote. 
It "is" — he smiled amiably — "it is as if 
sugar in the body changed to alcohol, 
and alcohol was a poison, but sugar — 
unchanged — was an antidote. That is 
it exactly. You see tha\ I have taken 
my little medicine for years, and it has 
not harmed me." 

"Which," said Bell — and somehow, 
his manner made .utter silence fall so 
that each word fety separately into a 
vast stillness — "which, thank God, is 
the one thing that wins finally, for 
met" 




E stood up and laughed. Quite 
a genuine laugh. " 



"Paula," he said comfortably, "get 
on the plane. In the cabin. Jamison 
and I are going to strip The Master." 

Paula starid. The Master looked at 
him blankly. 1 ' Jamison frowned bewll- 
deredly, but stood up grimly to obey. 



"But Senor," said The Master in 
gentle dignity, "merely to humiliate 
me — " 

"Not for that," said Bell. He 
laughed again. "But all the time I've 
been hearing about the stuff, I've no- 
ticed that nobody thought of it as a 
drug. It was a poison. People were 
poisoned. They did not become ad- 
dicts. But you — you are the only ad- 
dict to your drug." 

He turned to Jamison, his eyes 
gleaming. T> 

"Jamison," he said softly, "did you 
ever know of a drug addict who could 
bear to think of ever being without a 
supply of his drug — right on bis per- 
son?" 

Jamison literally jumped. 
"By God! No I" j 
The Master was quick. He was 
swarming up the plane wing tip be; 
fore Jamison reached him, and he 
kicked frenziedly when Jamison 
plucked him off. But then it was 
wholly, entirely, utterly horrible that 
the little white haired man, whose face 
and manner had seemed bo cherubic' 
and so bland, should shriek in so com- 
plete a blind panic as they forced his 
fingers open and took ^fountain pen 
away from him. c' & 
> "This is it'," said Bell in a deep sat- 
isfaction. "This is his point of weak- 
ness." 

THE Master was ghastly to look 
at, now. Jamison held him gently 
enough, considering everything, but 
The Master looked at that fountain 
pen as one might look at Paradise. 

"I — I swear," he gapped. "I — swear 
I will give you the formula!" % 
"You might lie," said Jamison 
grimly. 

"I swear it I" panted The Master in 
agony. "It — if the formula is known 
it— can be duplicated! It — the excre- 
tion can be hastened! It can all be 
forced from the body! Simplyl So 
simply! If only you know! I will 
tell you how it is done I The medicine 
is the cacodylate~~t>f — " 



258 



ASTOUNDING STORIES t 



Bell was leaning forward, now, like 
a runner breasting the tape at the end 
of a long and exhausting race. 

"I'll trade," he said softly. "Half the 
contents of^the pen for the formula. 
The other half we'll need for analysis. 
Half the stuff in the pen for the for- 
mula for freeing your slaves I" 

The Master sobbed. 

"A — a pencil!" he gasped. "I 
swear — " 

Jamison gave him a pencil and a 
notebook. He wrote, his hands shak- 
ing. Jamison read inscrutably. 

"It doesn't mean anything to me," 
he said soberly, "but you can read it. 
It's legible." 

Bell smiled faintly. With steady fin- 
gers he took his own fountain pen from 
his pocket. He emptied it of ink, and 
put a scrupulous half of a milky liquid 
from The Master's pen into it. He 
passed it over. 

"Your medicine," said Bell quietly, 
"may taste somewhat of ink, but it will 
not be poisonous. Now, what do we 
do with you? I give you your choice. 
If we take you with us, you will be 
held very secretly as a prisoner until 
the truth of the information you have 
given us can be proven. And ^Jf your 
slaves have all been freed, then I sup- 
pose you will be tied. . . ." 

THE Master was drawn and hag- 
gard. He looked very, very old 
and beaten. r 

"I — I would prefer," he said dully, 
"that you did not tell where I am, and 
that you go away and leave me here. 
I — I may have some subjects who will 
search for me, and — they may discover 
me here. . . . But I am beaten, Senor. 
You know that you have won." 

Bell swung up on the wing of the 
plane. He explored about in the cabin. 
He came back. 

"There are emergency supplies," he , 
said coldly. "We will leave them with 
you,, with such things as may be use- 
ful to allow you to hope as long as 
possible. I do not think you will ever 
be found here." 



"I— prefer it, Senor," said The Ma*, 
ter dully. "I— I will catch fish " 

Jamison helped put the' packages 
ashore. The Master shivered. Bell 
stripped off his coat and put it on top 
of the heap of packages. The Master 
did not Btir. Bell laid a revolver on 
top of his coat. He went out to the 
plane and started the motors. The Mas- 
ter watched apathetically as the big 
seaplane pulled clumsily out of the lit- 
tle cove. The rumble of the engines 
became a mighty roar. It started for- 
ward with a rush, skimmed the water 
for two hundred yards or so, and sud- 
denly lifted clear to go floating away 
through the air toward the north. 

PAULA was the only one who 
Jooked back. 
"He's crying," she said uncomfort- 
ably. 

"It isn't fear," said Bell quietly. "It's 
grief at the loss of his ambition. It 
may not seem so to you two, but I be- 
lieve he meant all that stuff he told 
me. He was probably really 'aiming, 
in his own way, for an Improved world 
for men to live in." 

The plane roared on. Presently Bell 
said shortly: 

"That stuff he has won't last indefi- 
nitely. I'm glad I left him that re- 
volver." 

Jamison stirred suddenly. He dug 
down in his pocket and fished out ■ 
cigar. 

"Since I feel that I may live long 
enough to finish smoking this," he ob- 
served dryly, "I think I'll light it. I 
haven't felt that I had twenty minutti 
of life ahead of me for a lon^ time, 
now. A sense of economy made me 
smoke cigarettes. It wouldn't be so 
much waste if you left half a cigarette 
behind you when you were killed." 

THE tight little cabin began to reek 
of. the tobacco. Paula pressed close 
to Bell. 

"But — Charles," she asked hopefully, 
"is — is it really all right, now?" 
"I think so," said Bell, frowning. 



MURDER MADNESS 



259 



"Our job's over, anyhow. We go up 
the Chilean coast and find that navy 
boat. We turn our stuff over to them. 
They'll take oyer the task of seeing 
that every doctor, everywhere in South 
America, knows how to get The Mas- 
ter's poison out of the system of any- 
body who's affected. Some of the^n 
won't be reached, but most of them 
will- I looked at his formula. Stand- 
ard drugs, all of them. There won't 
be any trouble getting the news spread. 
The Master's slaves will nearly go 
crazy with joy. And," he added grim- 
ly, "I'm going to see to if that the Rio 
police take back what they said about' 
us. I think we'll have enough pull to 
demand that much I" 

He was silent for a moment or so, 
thinking. 

"I do think, Jamison," he said pres- 
ently, "we did a pretty good job." 
Jamison grunted. 

"If — if it's really over," said Paula 
hopefully, "Charles — " 
"What?" 



"You— will be able to think about 
me sometimes," asked Paula wistfully, 
"instead of about The Master always?" 

Bell stared down at her. 

"Good Lord I" he groaned. "I have 
been a brute, Paula I But I've, been 
loving you — " He stopped^and then 
said with the elaborate politeness and 
something of the customary idiotic 
air of a man making such an announce- 
ment. "I say, Jamison, did you know 
Paula and I were to be married?" 

Jamison snorted. Then he said plac- 
idly: 

"No. Of course not. I never 
dreamed of such a thing. When did 
this remarkably originalndea occur to 
you?" • 

He puffed a huge cloud of smoke 
from his cigar. It was an unusually 
vi|e cigar. Bell scowled at him help- 
lessly for a moment and then said 
wrathfully : 

"Oh, go to hell I" | 

And he bent over and kissed Paula. 
(The End) 



IN THE NEXT ISSUE 



JETTA OF THE LOWLANDS 

Beginning an Exciting Three-Part Novel of the Narei Deep 

By Ray Cum mi rigs 

AN ATTACK FROM SPACE 

A Sequel to "Beyond the Heavitide Layer" 

By Captain S. P. Meek 

MAROONED UNDER THE SEA 

A Thrilling Novelet of the Ocean Floor 

By Paul Ernst ( 

EARTH, THE MARAUDER* 

The Conclusion of the Tremendout Novel 

By Arthur J. Burks 
AND OTHERS! \ 




The Flying City 

By H. Thompson Rich 

N the burning solitude of the great r practical method of tapping the vast 



Arizona desert, some two miles 
south of Ajo, a young scientist 
was about to perform an experi- 
ment that might have far-reaching re- 
sults for humanity. 

The scientist 

was Cordon Ken- 
d r i c k — a tall, 
tanned, robust 
chap pwho looked 
more like a pros- 
pector in search of gold than a profes- 
sor of physics from the State Uni- 
versity of Tucson. 

Indeed, he was in a way a prospector, 
since it was gold he sought — some 



From Space came Car's disc-city of Vada 
— its nighty, age-old engines weakening — 
its horde of dwarfs hungry for the Earth! 



260 



radio-energetic treasure of the sun— 
and it was an apparatus designed to ac- 
complish just this that he was about to 
test. 

The primary unit of the mechanism 

comprised a sphe- 

r o i d a 1 vacuum- 
tube measuring a 
little over a foot 
across its long 
axis, mounted in 
a steel bracket that held it horizontal 
with the ground. Down through its 
short axis ran a shaft on which was 
centered a light cross of aluminum 
wire, carrying four vanes of mica, one 




heart, though his brown face was calm. 

If his theories were right, that re- 
volving cross would tap and draw into 
its vanes radio-energetic waves of 
force, much as the whirling armature 
of a dynamo draws into its coils elec- 
tro-magnetic waves of force. For the 
blackened sides of the vanes, absorbing 
more radiation than the bright sides, 
would cause the molecules to rebound 
from .the warmer surfaces with greater 
velocity, setting up an alternate pres- 
sure and bringing the rays to a focus 
on the cathode, where they would be 
reflected to the nib as waves of heatric- 
ity, to use the word he had coined. 

Those were Kendrick's theories, and 
now he moved to put them to the su- 
preme test. Switching on the current, 
he set the motor going. In response, 
the cross began to revolve, slowly at 
first — then faster, faster, as he opened 
the rheostat wider. 



face of each coated with lampblack. A 
flexible cable led from the bottom of 
this shaft to the base of the bracket, 
where it was geared to a small electric 
motor driven by two dry cells. A rheo- 
■tat-switch for delivering and control- 
ling the current was mounted nearby. 

At the wide arc of the egg-shaped 
tube was a concave platinum cathode, 
at the narrow arc a nib of some sort, 
ending in a socket. From this socket, 
two heavy insulated wires extended 
sixty feet or so across the sand to the 
secondary unit of the mechanism, 
which was roughly a series of resis- 
tance coils, resembling those in an or- 
dinary electric heater. 

AS Kendrick prepared to *est this 
delicate apparatus that repre- 
sented so much of his time and 
thought, held so much of his hope 
locked up in it, a turmoil was in his 



262 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



Eyes fixed on his resistance coils, he 
gave a sudden cry of triumph. Yes, 
there was no doubt about it I They were 
growing red, glowing brightly, white- 
ly, above the intense desert sunlight. 

Here was a means of converting so- 
lar radiation into heat, then, that of- 
fered tremendous commercial possibil- 
ities! 

But even as he exulted, there came 
a blinding flash — and the overtaxed 
coils burst into flame. 

SHIELDING his eyes from the 
glare, he reached for the rheostat, 
shut oS the current, rushed to his sec- 
ondary unit — where he beheld an amaz- 
ing sight. Neit only had this part of 
the apparatus completely disintegrated, 
but the sand of the desert floor under 
it as well. On the spot quivered a 
miniature lake of molten glass I 

As Kendrick stood ruefully beside 
that fiery pool, meditating on the spec- 
tacular but not altogether gratifying 
results of his experiment, a peculiar 
low humming sound reached his ears. 
Rushing back to his primary unit, with 
the thought that perhaps by some 
chance he had not fully closed the rhe- 
ostat, he looked at the cross. But no, 
the vanes were still. * 

The humming increased, however— 
grew into a vibration that made hiB 
eardrums ache. 

Puzzled, he looked around. What 
on earth could it be? Had his unruly 
experiment called into play some tre- 
mendous, unsuspected force of the 
universe Was he to bring the world 
to ruin, as a result of his blind groping 
after this new giant of power? 

Such predictions had often been 
made by the ignorant, to be dismissed 
by scientists as the veriest nonsense. 
But was there some truth in the uni- 
versal fear, after all ? Was he to be the 
Prometheus who stole fire from Olym- 
pus, the Samson who toppled down the 
temple? 

Chilled, dizzied with the pain of the 
ever-increasing vibration, he gritted 
his teeth, awaiting he knew not what. 



Then it came — a spectacle so stag- 
gering that he went rigid with awe u 
he regarded it, all power of motion ut- 
terly numbed for the moment. The 
vibration ceased. The thing appeared. 

It was a city — a city in the air— « 
flying city 1 

AS Kendrick stood staring atthii 
phenomenon, he could scarcely 
credit his senses. 

Had the magic carpet of Bagdad sud- 
denly materialized before him, he 
would not have been more astounded. 
And indeed, it was in a way a magic 
carpet — a great disclike affair, several 
miles in diameter, its myriad towen 
and spires glinting like gold under the 
noonday sun, while its vast shadow fell 
athwart the desert like the pall of an 
eclipse. 

The lower portion, he noted, was is 
the main flat, though a number of 
wartisb protuberances jutted down 
from it, ejecting a pale violet emana- 
tion. Whatever this was it seemed to 
have the effect of holding the thing 
motionless in the air, for it hovered 
there quite easily, a hundred yards or 
so above the ground. 

But what was it? Where was it 
from? What had brought it? 

Those were the questions he wanted 
answered ; and they were to be, sooner 
than he knew. 

As he stood there speculating, a de- 
vice like a trap-door opened in the base 
of the disc, and creatures resembling 
human beings began descending. Be- 
gan floating down, rather. 

Whereupon Kendrick djd what any 
sensible man woujdj have done, under 
similar circumstances. He reacted 
into motion. In short, he ran. 

GLANCING back over his shoul- 
der after a minute or two, how- 
ever, he drew up sheepishly. Of that 
strange apparition and those who had 
descended from it there was not a 
trace, not a shadow I ^* r ~ 

But the peculiar humming had re- 
commenced, he realized in the next 



THE FLYING CITY 



263 



breath— and at the same instant he felt 
fiimself seized by invisible hands. 

There was a struggle, but it was brief 
and futile. When it was over bis cap- 
tors became visible once more. They 
,were singular little beings about four 
feet tall, with strange, wise, leathery 
faces, their heads grotesquely bald. 

The humming had ceased again. The 
disc, too, was once more visible. 

What happened next was something 
even more astounding,' if there could 
be any further degrees of wonder pos- 
sible for the utterly baffled young sci- 
entist. He felt himself lifted up, leav- 
ing the desert floor, whirling away to- 
ward that incredible phenomenon ho- 
vering there. 

Another moment or two and he had 
been borne up through its trap-door 
opening, was standing in a dark space 
bounded by solid metal walls. Then 
be was thrust into a cylinder with sev- 
eral of his tiny guards, shot swiftly up- 
ward. 

A DOOR opened as they came to 
rest, and he was led out into a 
vast court of gleaming amber crystal. 
Something like a taxi slid up, with ir- 
ridescent planes, and he was bundled 
into it, whirled away again. ' 

Down broad, gleaming avenues they 
passed, where similar traffic flowed 
densely, but under marvelous control. 
Towering skyscrapers loomed to right 
and left. Tier on tier of upper and 
lower boulevards revealed themselves, 
til crowded with automotive and pe- 
destrian activity. 

At length a stupendous concourse 
was reached. Thousands of these taxis 
and similar vehicles were parked along 
its broad flanks, while literal swarms 
of diminutive individuals circulated to 
and fro. 

Assisted from the vehicle that had 
brought him to this obvious center of 
the disc's activities, Kendrick was led 
into a monumental structure pf jade- 
Sfjian stone that towered a full hun- 
dred; stories above the street level. 
There he was escorted into another of 



those projectilelike elevators, shot up, 
up— till at length it came to rest. The 
door opened and he was led out into a 
small lobby of the same amber crystal 
he' had observed before. 

By now his guards had diminished to 
two, but he no longer made any effort 
to escape. Wherever this amazing ad- 
venture might lead, he was resolved to 
follow it through. 

One of the guards had advanced to a 
jewelled door and was pressing a but- 
ton. In response, the door opened. A 
golden-robed, regal creature stood 
there. 

THOUGH dwarfed to four feet, 
like his fellow, he waV obviously 1 
their mental superior to a* prodigious 
degree. Not only was bis symmetrical 
bald head of large brain content, but 
the fihely-cut features of bis parch- 
ment face bore the unmistakable stamp 
of a powerful intellect. 

"Ao-cbaa!" commanded this evident 
monarch of the disc, addressing the 
guards. 

They bowed and departed, abruptly. 

"My dear Kendrick I" thV regal per- 
sonage now said, in thin, precise Eng- 
lish. "It is indeed, a pleasure to wel- 
come you to my humble quarters. Pray 
enter and make yourself comfortable." 

Whereupon he ushered him into a 
dazzling apartment that was one vast 
mosaic of precious gems, indicated a 
richly carved chair, into which the 
young scientist dropped wonderingly. 

"Now then. Processor," continued 
the mighty little dwarf, when he was 
seated in a chair even more sumptuous, 
"suppose we have a friendly little dis- 
cussion. I have been much interested 
in your experiments on heat radiation. 
What you demonstrated this morning, 
in particular, was most absorbing. You 
hava hit upon a rather^irofound- scien^ 
tifir principle, yes?" 

"Possibly," Kendrick admitted, quite 
conscious that he was being patron- 
ized. 

"Oh, don't be modest, my dear fel- 
low I" smiled the dwarf. "I am the last 



264 



one to belittle your achievement. In- 
deed, it is because of it that I have in- 
vited you here to-day. Permit me to 
introduce myself, and to make clear 
one or two possibly perplexing matters. 
Then I am sure we shall have a most 
agreeable chat." 

HIS name was Cor, he said, and he 
was in truth the monarch of this 
strange realm. His people had come 
from the one-time planet of Vada, far 
distant in the universe. A thousand 
years ago, this planet had been doomed 
by the approach of an alien star. Their 
great scientist, Raw, had met the em- 
ergency by inventing the disc, into 
whose construction they had poured 
all their resources. The pick of their 
populace had been salvaged on this 
giant life-raft. The rest had perished 
when that destroying star had crashed 
down on the doomed Vada. 

Since then theBe survivors and 
their descendants had been voyaging 
through space on their marvelous disc. ' 
For hundreds of years they had given 
no thought to the future, content to 
drift on and on in the interstellar void, 
breathing an atmosphere' produced ar- 
tificially. But at length the inevitable 
had happened. This superb piece of 
mechanism devised by their super- 
genius. Raw, was beginning to show 
signs of wear. Some of its mighty en- 
gines were nearing the exhaustion 
point. Either they must soon find; a 
planet comparable with the one they 
had once known, where they could 
pause and rehabilitate their machinery, 
or they must disintegrate and pass into 
oblivion. 

Faced with that crisis, Cor had long 
been seeking such a planet. He had 
found it, at last, in the earth — and had 
resolved that this was where they were 
going to alight and transplant the civ- 
ilization of ancient Vada, pending such 
time as they could take to space again. 

FOR some months now they had 
been hovering over various por- 
tions of the earth, studying its geog- 



ASTdUNDING STORIES 



raphy and its peoples, with the result 
that they had concluded the United 
States offered the most logical point 
for launching the attack. Once 'this 
country was subdued, they were in 
possession of the richest and most ad- 
vanced section of the planet. The con- 
quest of the rest of it could await their 
leisure. 

With such an invasion in view, their 
scientists had mastered the language 
of the country. This had been accom- 
plished very easily, since in addition 
to their power of mingling with tfie 
populace in an invisible form, they had 
the principles of -radio developed to a 
high degree and were able to tune in 
on any station they wanted. 

Kendrick sat there, stunned, as Cor 
followed his astounding revelation of 
their origin with this calm plan for the 
conquest of America, of the world. 
Why, of all people on earth, had he 
alone been singled out for this dis- 
closure ? 

He asked the question now. 

"My dear Professor, can't you really 
guess?" replied Cor, with that leathery 
smile. "Hasn't it dawned that you were 
a little too near our own field with that 
machine of yours? A trifle more re- 
search, a slightly different application 
— and you would have become a dan- 
gerous enemy." 

"You — you mean — ?" 

"I mean there isn't a great deal of 
difference between the experiments 
you have been making and those our 
great Raw once made. For instance, 
had your broadcast your heatricity, as 
you call it, instead of trying to trans- 
mit it on wires — well, picture a receiv- 
ing apparatus in each home of the land, 
like your commercial radio sets. You 
would have become a billionaire, don't 
you see?" 

KENDRICK saw indeed. It was 
simple, so simple! Fool — why 
hadn't he thought of it? 

"But your invention will never make 
you wealthy now, my dear fellow," Cor 
went on, tauntingly. "You will be our 



THE FLYING CITY 



265 



guest, here, until we have taken over 
your interesting country. After that, 
if there is any need -for the broadcast- 
ing of heat, we will furnish it our- 
selves. We have- those facilities, among 
others, fully developed. Would you 
care to see our plant?" 

Kendrick naturally admitted that he 
would, so the dwarf led him through a 
rear door and up a winding flight of 
stairs. They emerged presently into a 
great laboratory housed in the glass- 
roofed pinnacle of the tower. 

There he beheld a sight that left him 
breathless. Never before had he seen 
such an assemblage of scientific appa- 
ratus. Its vastness and strangeness 
were fairly overpowering, even to a 
man as well versed in physio-chemical 
paraphernalia as he was. 

Before his eyes could take in a tenth 
part of the spectacle. Cor had led him 
to the left wall. 

'There," he said, "you will observe a 
development of your heat" generator." 

Kendrick looked — to see a long 
bank of large vacuum-tubes, each 
about three feet high and a foot wide, 
connected by a central shaft that 
caused series of little vanes in each of 
them to revolve at lightning speed. 

Around the apparatus moved nu- 
merous small attendants, oiling, wip- 
ing, adjusting its many delicate parts. 

"Well, what do you think now?" 
asked Cor. 

Kendrick made no reply, though he 
was thinking plenty. 

"You see, it is your invention, my 
dear Professor," the dwarf'went on in 
his taunting voice, -"only anteceded by 
a thousand years — and rather more per- 
fected, you must admit." 

HE walked now to the center of the 
laboratory, where stood a huge 
dial of white crystal, rankedvwith marry 
levers and switches, all capped, with the 
■ame material. 

"Behold I" he said, throwing over 
one. 

Instantly there came again that pe- 
culiar low humming that had so puz- 



zled him a few minutes before and the 
entire room,' its engines, its attendants, 
Cor himself, leapt into invisibility. 
Only Kendrick remained, facing the 
faintly visible crystal dial. 

Then he saw a Bwitch move, as 
though automatically. But no, for the 
dwarfs hand was on it now. Visibility 
had returned. The vibration ceased. 

"That is the central control," said 
Cor. "Our city and all its inhabitants 
become invisible when that switch is 
thrown. Only the dial remains, for 
the guidance of the operator, and even 
that cannot be seen at a distance of 
more than fifty feet. But now behold I" 

He raised his hand, touched a watch- 
like device strapped to hu wrist — and 
was instantly invisible. But the labo- 
ratory and every machine and person 
in it remained in plain view. Nor was 
there any vibration now. 

THE next moment, having tonched 
that curious little device aga^n, 
Cor reappeared. 

"That is the local control," he said. 
"Every one of our inhabitants, except' 
those under discipline, has one of these 
little mechanisms. It enables us to 
make ourselves invisible at will. A con- 
venience at times, you must admit." 

"Decidedly," Kendrick agreed. "And 
the principle?" 

"Quite simple. One of those, in, fact, 
that lies behind your researches. 
Doubtless you would have hit upon it 
yourself in time. Your own scientist, 
Faraday, you may recall, held the 
opinion that the various forms under 
which the forces of matter manifest 
themselves have a common origin. We 
of the disc, thanks to our great Raw, 
have found that common origin." 

It vas the origin of matter itself, 
Cor said, which lay in the ether of in- 
terstellar space — energy, raw, cosmic—) 
vibrations, rays. 

By harnessing and controlling these 
various rays, his people had been able 
to accomplish their seeming miracles — 
miracles that the people of earth, too, 
were beginning to achieve — as in elec- 



266 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



tricity, for instance, and its further ap- 
plication, radio. 

But the people of Vada had long 
since mastered such simple rays, and 
'now, in possession of vastly more 
powerful ones* had the elemental 
forces Of the universe at their disposal. 

THE disc was propelled through 
space by short rays of tremend- 
ously high frequency, up above the 
ultra-violet. The same rays, directed 
downward instead of outward, enabled 
them to overcome the pull of gravity 
when a planet's influence, as at present. 
And the escalator rays, by which they 
could proceed to and from the disc, 
were also of high frequency, as were 
their invisibility rays. 

"But you. Professor, are more inter- 
ested in low frequency rays, the long 
ones down below infra-red," continued 
Cpr. "You have seen our development 
of the heat-dynamo principle. It util- 
izes, I might add, not only solar radia- 
Jtion but that of the stars as well. There 
being a billion and a half jof these in 
the universe, many of them a thousand 
times or more as large as your own sun, 
we naturally have quite an efficient lit- 
tle heating plant here. It provides us 
with our weapon of .warfare, as well as 
keeping us warm. Permit me to dem- 
onstrate." 

He led the way to a gleaming circle 
of glass like an inverted telescope, 
about a yard in diameter, mounted in 
the floor." 1 
"Lookl" said the dwarf. 
Kendrick did so— and there, spread 
below him, lay the floor of the desert. 
His camp, his apparatus, were just as 
he had left them. 
Cor now moved toward the dial. 
"Behold I" he said, pulling a lever. 
, Instantly the scene below was an in- 
ferno. Stricken by a blast of stupen- 
dous heat, the whole area went molten, 
lay quivering like a lake of lava in the 
crater of an active volcano. 

"Suppose, my dear Professor," 
smiled the dwarf, strolling back from 
the dial, "just suppose, for instance, 



that instead of the lonely camp of an 
obscure scientist, youri proud city of 
New York had been below there I" 

KENDRICK shuddered. 
Well he knew now the terrible 
power, the appalling menace of this 
strange invader. 

"I would prefer not to make such a 
supposition," he said, quietly, with a 
last thoughtful glance at that witches' 
caldron below. 

"Then let us think of pleasanter 
things. You are my guest of honor, sir 
— America's foremost scientist, though 
she may never realize it," with a pip- 
ing chuckle. "To-night there will be 
a great banquet in your honor. Mean- 
while, suppose I show you to your 
quarters." 

Nettled, fuming, though outwardly 
calm, Kendrick permitted himself to be 
escorted from the laboratory to an or- 
nate apartment on one of the lower 
floors. 

There Cor left him, with the polite 
hint that he would find plenty of atten- 
dants handy should he require any- 
thing. 

Alone now, in the midst of this vast, 
nightmarish metropolis, he paced back 
and forth, back and forth — knowing 
the hideous fate that threatened the 
world but powerless to' issue one word 
of warning, much less avert it. 

KENDRICK was still thinking and 
brooding along these lines when 
saw the door of the apartment swiftly 
open and close again. * 
Someone had entered, invisible I 
Backing away, he waited, tense. 
Then, suddenly, his visitor material- 
ized. With a gasp, he saw standing be- 
fore him a beautiful girl. 

She was a young woman, rather, in 
her early twenties. Not one of these 
pigmies of the disc, either, but a tall, 
slender creature of his own world. 

Her hair was dark, modishly bobbed. 
Her eyes were a dee^t, clear brown, her 
skin a warm olive. And she was dressed 
as though she had just stepped off 



THE FLYING CITY 



267 



Fifth Avenue — which indeed she had, 
not bo long ago, as he was soon to learn. 

"I hope I haven't startled you too 
much, Mr. Kendrick," she said, in a 
rich, husky murmur, "but — well, there 
wasn't any other way." 

"Oh, I guess I'll get over it," he re- 
plied with a smile. "But you have the 
advantagpJaf me, since you know my 
name." >^ 

Hers was Marjorie Blake, she told 
him then. 

"Not the daughter of Henderson 
Blake?" he gasped. 

"Yes," with a tremor, "his only 
daughter." 

Whereupon Kendrick knew the solu- 
tion of a mystery that had baffled the 
police for weeks. The newspapers had 
been full of it at the time. This beau- 
tiful girl, whose father was one of 
America's richest men and president of 
its largest bank, had disappeared as 
though the earth had swallowed her. 
She had left ' their summer estate at 
Great Neck, Long Island, on a bright 
June morning, bound for New York on 
a shopping tour — and had simply van- 
ished. 

SUICIDE had been hinted by some 
of the papers, but had not been 
taken seriously, since she had no ap- 
parent motive for ending her life. Ab- 
duction seemed to be the more logical 
explanation, and huge rewards had 
been offered by her frantic parents — 
all to no avail. 

What had happened vrap, she now ex- 
plained, that after visiting several 
shops and making a number of pur- 
chases, she had stepped into Central 
Park at the Plaza for a breath of fresh 
air before lunching at the Sherry- 
Netherlands, where she planned to 
meet some friends. 

But before advancing a hundred 
yards along the secluded path, she had 
been seized by invisible hands — had 
felt something strapped to her wrist, 
before anyone came in sight — and then, 
invisible too, had been lifted up, 
whirled away into a vast, humming vi- 



bration .that sounded through the air. 

Once on the disc, it had swept off 
into space at incredible bpeed, pausing 
only when some hundreds of miles 
above the earth and invisible from be- 
low without mechanical aid. When its 
vibration finally ceased that amazing 
city had leapt before her eyes. 

Then, her own visibility restored, 
she had been led into the presence of 
that mighty little monarch, Cor, who 
explained that she had been seized as a 
hostage and would be held as an ace in 
the hole, pending conquest of her coun- 
try. Since when she had been a pris- 
oner aboard the disc. [> 

LEARNING of Kendrick's capture, 
from gossip among the women, 
she had taken the first opportunity of 
coming to him, in the hope that be- 
tween them they might devise some 
means of escape. \ 

Indeed, that was his own fondest 
hope — their imperative need, if thq 
people of America and of the earth 
were to be saved from this appalling 
menace. But what basis was there for 
such a fantastic hope? Just one, that 
he could see. 

"That thing on your wrist," he said t 
voicing it. "I'm surprised they let you 
wear one of those." 

"They don't," she smiled. "I stole 
itX — from one of the maids in my apart- 
ment. It was the only way I could get 
here without being seen. I felt I must 
see you at once. We've got to do some- 
thing, soon, or it'll be too late. I felt 
that, as a scientist, you might have 
some idea how we could get off." 

"How do the people themselves get 
off?" he asked. "That escalator ray — 
do you know how they use it?" 

"No, I've never beeijable to find out. 
They don't let me go near that part Sf 
the city." 
Kendrick reflected a moment. 
"Let's have a look at that invisibility 
affair," he said. 

She removed it from her wrist, 
handed it to him. Somewhat in awe, 
he examined it. 



268 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



THE mechanism portion, which was 
linked in a strap of elastic metal, 
resembled only superficially a watch, 
he now saw. Rather it had the appear- 
ance of some delicate electric switch. 
Rectangular in shape, it was divided 
into two halves by a band of white 
crystal. In each of these halves were 
two little buttons of the same material, 
those on one side round, on the other 
square. 

"Which buttons control the invisi- 
bility?" he asked. 

"The square ones," she replied. 
"One's pushed in now, you see. If you 
should push the other, the first would 
come out — and you'd pass out of the 
picture, so to speak." 

Kendrick was half tempted to try the 
thing then and there, but deferred the 
impulse. 

"What are the' round buttons for?" 
he inquired instead. 

Marjorie didn't know, but thought 
they were probably an emergency pair, 
in case something went wrong with the 
square ones. In any e^ent, nothing 
happened when you pushed them. 

Kendrick pushed^pne, just tg see. It 
was true. Nothing happened"— but he 
seemed to sense a faint, peculiar vibra- 
tion and a wave of giddiness iwept 
over him. On pushing the other, which 
released the first, it stopped. 

■r 

HE handed the device back to Mar- 
jorie. 

"There's your bracelet. Now, if I 
can just get one like it, I think we'll 
get down to earth all right." 

"Oh, Mr. Kendrick I" Her eyes lit up 
eagerly. "Then you've thought of . a 
way ?" 

"Not exactly. I think I've discov- 
ered their own way. I can't be certain, 
but I'm willing to gamble on it, if you 
are." 

"Then you — you think those round 
buttons are connected with the esca- 
lator rays?" 

"Exactly I I think they control indi- 
vidual descent and ascent, just as the 
square ones control individual visibil- 



ity and invisibility. At any rate, ift 
the hunch I'm going to act on right 
now, if you're with me." 

"Oh, I'm with you I" she breathed. 
"Anything, death almost, would be pre- 
ferable to this." 

"Then stand by, invisible. I'm going 
to get one of my jailors in here and re- 
lieve him of his wrist-watch." 

Marjorie touched that little square 
button on her own. She instantly be- 
came invisible. 

Kendrick touched a button - too, a 
button he had noticed beside the door. 
As he had supposed, it brought one of 
the Vadans. 

Shutting the door quietly^-he seized 
the fellow before he could move bis 
hand to his wrist. Thwarted in his at- 
tempt to vanish from sight, the diminu- 
tive guard attempted an outcry. But 
Kendrick promptly throttled him. 

MARJORIE had reappeared by 
now and together they bound 
him to a chair with a gilded cord torn 
from the drapery. 

Removing the precious mechanism 
from his wrist, Kendrick slipped it on 
bis own. 

"Now let's go I" he said, pressing the 
..rotruding square button of the device. 
"vVe haven't a minute to— my golly, 
what a peculiar sensation I'y 

"It is rather odd, isn't is?" she 
laughed, pressing her own and joining 
him in that invisible realm. 

"Feels like a combination electric 
massage and cold shower 1 Where are 
you, anyway? I can't see you." 

"Of course you can't I" came an un- 
seen tinkle. "Here I'" 

He felt her brush him. 

"Better hold hands," he suggested, 
then gave an invisible flush he was glad 
she couldn't see. 

"All right. A good idea." 

Her delicate hand came into his, soft, 
warm. Heart vibrating even faster 
than his body, his whole being a-quiver 
with a strange exaltation, Kendrick 
opened the door, and they left the 
apartment. 



THE FLYING CITY 



269 



THE next half-hour was the tensest 
either of them had ever experi- 
enced. Every foot of the way was 
fraught with peril. 

Not only did they have to carefully 
avoid the visible swarms of little peo- 
ple who hurried everywhere, but had 
to be on their guard as well against 
any who might be moving about like 
themselves under cover of invisibility. 

Nor could they use any elevators or 
public conveyances, but were obliged 
to make their way down to the con- 
course by heaven knew how many 
lights of stairs, and cross heaven knew 
how many teeming streets on foot, be- 
fore they reached the amber court, be- 
low which the trap-door and their hope 
of freedom. 

They got there at last, however, de- 
scended, and peered "down from that 
yawning brink upon the desert floor — 
to draw back with gasps of dismay. For 
the area still gleamed semi-molten 
from the stupendous blast that had 
wiped out Kendrick's camp. 
"W-what is it?" she gasped. 
Swiftly he told her. * 
"But isn't there any way around it? 
Look, over there to the left. One edge 
of the crater seems to end almost un- 
derneath us." 

It was true that the center of the 
caldron was far to the right of where 
they stood, and that its left rim was 
only a little within their direct line of 
descent. But to land even one foot in- 
lide that inferno would be as fatal as 
to alight in its very midst, y 

KENDRICK was thinking fast. 
"There's just a chance," he 
Bid. "It all depends upon how wide 
the zone of these escalator rays is, and 
whether we can tune in on them. At 
least, I can probably answer the latter 
question." 

Pushing the protrudent round but- 
ton on his mysterious bracelet as he 
•poke, he leaned over the edge of the 
trap-door and awaited results. 

They were nof long in coming. The 
vibration he was already under from 



the invisibility rays seemed to double. 
Alternate waves of giddiness and de- 
pression, of push and pull, swept over 
him. 

A minute of it was enough. He 
pressed the round button that now pro- 
truded, ending this influence, and 
faced Marjorie, stating: 

"I'm positive now that these things 
control descent and ascent. As nearly 
as I can figure, the rays work on the 
principle of an endless belt. If you're 
up here, you get carried down, and vice 
versa. As to how wide the belt is, and 
whether you can move sideways on it, 
remains to be seen. Anyway, I'm go- 
ing to take a chance. I'll go first. If 
my guess is wrong, you — well, needn't 
follow." 

"No, I'm going with you!" she de- 
clared resolutely. "We've come this 
far together. I shan't be left alone 
now. Let's go I" | 

And again her soft, warm hand was 
in his. 

Lord, what a girl I How many would 
be brave enough to take a gamble like 
that, on a fellow's mere supposition? 

"All right — go it is I" he said. "Push 
your round button, like this." He 
showed her the way he thought was 
right, pushed his own. "Ready?" 

"Ready I" , 

THEIR voices were grave. It waB 
a grim prospect, stepping off into 
space like that, with only a guess be- 
tween them and death. 
"Then jump I" 

They jumped, gripping Ach other's 
hands tightly — and instead of drop- 
ping like plummets were caught in a 
powerful field of force and whirled 
gently downward. 

"Oh, you were right f gasped Mar-i 
jorie, awed. "See, we — " ~ 

Then she paused, horror-stricken, 
for it was obvious that they were to 
descend within that lake of molten 
glass, unless they could change their 
course at once.'' . 

"Quick I" he called. v Hold fasti 
Now — run I" 



270 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



Breathless, they raced to the left, 
across that invisible descending belt. 

Too far, Kendrick knew, and they 
would plunge outside its zone, fall 
cnished and mangled. Not far enough, 
and they would meet cremation. It 
was a fearful hazard, either way, but it 
had to be taken. 

They were almost down, now, and 
still not quite far enough to the left. 
The heat of that yawning crater rose 
toward them. 

"Faster — faster!" he cried, fairly 
dragging her along with him* 

A last dash,— a breathless instant — 
and they stodd there on the ground, 
not three feet from the edge of doom. 

Swooning with the heat, Marjorie 
swayed against him, murmured an in- 
coherent prayer. , 

"Take heart I" he whispered, lifting- 
her bodily and bearing her some yards 
away. ''We're down — safe I" 

THEIR safety was but relative, 
however, Kendrick j well knew. 
Until they could put miles between 
them and this monstrous disc, they 
were not really safe. No telling how 
soon their escape might be discovered. 
No telling what terrible means Cor 
might take of curbing their flight. 

So as soon as Marjorie had recovered 
sufficiently to proceed, they headed off 
across the desert at a fast walk toward 
Ajo, where he hoped to catch the after- 
noon train for Gila Bend. From there, 
they could board the limited for Tuc- 
son and points east, when it came 
through from Yuma that night. 

They had tuned out on the escalator 
rays, but continued on still invisible — 
for the disc hung above them in plain 
view and it would'have been suicide to 
let themselves be seen. 

Even so, Kendrick soon began to 
have 1 an uneasy feeling of being fol- 
lowed. He looked around from time to 
time, but could see nothing. Were 
some of those invisible little creatures 
on their trail? 

He said nothing to Marjorie of his 
anxiety, but presently she too began 



glancing backward uneasily, every few 
steps. 

"They are near us I" she said tt >• 
length, in a whisper. "I can sense 
them." 

It was more than sense, they soon 
discovered. Little paddings became 
quite audible, and once or twice they 
saw the sand scuffed up, not twenty 
feet away, as though by a foot passing 
over it. 

MEANWHILE they were climb- 
ing a rise' of ground, broken by 
many small hummocks and dotted with 
thorny shrubs. On the other side, at 
the foot of a long down-slope, lay Ajo. 

Once they reached the summit, Ken- 
drick felt sure they could outdistance 
their pursuers on the descent. Already, 
if his watch was right, the train was 
preparing to pull out. It would be a 
breathless dash, but he was confident 
they could make it. 

So he reassured Marjorie as best he 
could, and helped her on up the slope. 

They were practically on the summit 
and already in view of the little rail- 
road station and huddle of shacks be- 
low — when suddenly he felt himself 
tripped and filing violently to the 
ground. At the same instant, his com- 
panion emitted a scream, as she felt 
herself seized by invisible hands. 

Leaping to his feet, Kendrick flailed 
out with solid fists at their attackers. 
Groans answered the impacts and he 
knew his blows were taking effect 

FREE for a moment he dashed to 
Marjorie, felt for the midgets who 
swarmed around her. Seizing one of 
the invisible forms, he lifted It and 
flung it crashing to the ground. An- 
other, likewise, and another. 

Then he threshed his legs, where 
two of the creatures clung, trying to 
drag him down again. They flew 
through the air, with cries of fright 
"Well, so far, so good I" he ei- 
claimed. "We won't wait to see if 
there are any more. Come on — let's 
go I" 



THE FLYING CITY 



271 



•Right!" 

Reaching for each other's hands, 
the? raced down the slope. 

Halfway there they saw a warning 
Uait of steam rise from the engine, 
followed by a whistle. 

"They'll be pulling out in a minute 
now I" he gasped, increasing speed. 
"We've got to make it I— our only 
chancel" 

"We will make it I" she sobbed 
through clenched teeth, meeting his 
pace. 

Glancing over his shoulder, after 
mother fifteen seconds, Kendrick saw 
that the disc was no longer visible. 
Since, there was no vibration he real- 
ized with relief that it was now hidden 
behind the slope they were descending. 

"Quick — push your button I" he said, 
poshing his own. 

They came out of the influence of 
the invisibility rays, raced breathless 
on down the slope — gained the station 
platform just as the train was getting 
under way. 

Helping the exhausted girl aboard, 
he mounted the steps himself, led her 
through the vestibule into its single 
passenger coach. • 

Dropping into a seat, they sat there 
panting as the train gathered speed. 

BY the time the decrepit but life- 
saving little local drew into Gila 
Bend they had somewhat recovered' 
from their harrowing experience. 

Marjorie Wis still pale, however, as 
Kendrick helped her from the train. 

"I may recover," she said with a wan 
anile, 'Taut I'll never look the samel 
An old saying, but I know what it 
means now." 

He thought better of a sudden im- 
pulse to tell her she looked quite all 
right to him. Instead, he said grimly : 
"I know now what a lot of things 
mean!" 

The Tucson limited would not be 
through for over an hour, they learned. 
That would give them time to hunt up 
the authorities and sound a warning of 
the ominous invader that was in the 



vicinity. Perhaps, by prompt military 
action, it might be destroyed, or at 
least crippled. 

But first they went to the telegraph 
office, where Marjorie got off a mes- 
sage that would bring joy to her 
grieved family. 

While standing there outside the 
barred window, odors of food came 
wafting to them from a nearby lunch- 
room. 

"Um-ml" she sniffed. "That smells 
good to mel I haven't tasted any 
earthly cooking for ages. Everything 
on that horrible disc was syothetic." 

"Then I suggest we have ham and 
eggs, at once," he said. "Or would 
you prefer a steak?" 

"I think I'll have both!" 

AS they walked into the lunch- 
room, Kendrick told her of the 
banquet in his honor Cor had promised 
for that night. 

"I guess I didn't miss much," he 
ended. 

"You certainly didn't!" she assured 
him, with a smile. "It would have 
opened with a puree of split-molecule 
soup, continued with an entree of 
breaded electrons, and closed with an 
ionic caft." 

He laughed. 

"I'm just as well satisfied I was un- 
able to attend ! Humble as it is, I think 
this will prove to be much more whole- 
some food." 

Night had fallen by the time they 
left the lunch-room. Glancing at his 
watch, Kendrick saw that they still 
had better than a half-hour before the 
limited was due, so they betook them- 
selves to the police station. 

It was only a block away and in con- 
sequence they weren't loig reaching it. 
'" The chief had gone home, the officer 
at the desk informed them, but if there 
was anything they cared to report, be 
would be glad to make note of it. 

A big raw-boned westerner, he shift- 
ed his quid as he spoke and spat re- 
soundingly in a cuspidor at his feet. 

"All right, then — get your pencil 



272 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



ready I" said Kendrick with a smile. 
"This is Miss Marjorie Blake, daugh- 
ter of Henderson Blake, of New York. 
Perhaps you read of her disappear- 
ance, a few weeks ago. And I . . ." 

As he introduced himself and told 
briefly of their astounding experience, 
the officer's eyes bulged with amaze- 
ment. 

"Say, what yuh-all tryin' to hand 
me?" he snorted finally. "D'yuh think 
I was bom simple?" 

"Press your button I" whispered 
Marjorie. "Show him how the invisi- 
bility ray works. It'll save a lot of ar- 
gument." 

"Right!" 

HE held up his wrist. 
"See this? Now watch I" 
Whereupon he pressed the button. 
But to their dismay, nothing happened. 

"Wa-al, I'm still watchin' I". drawled 
the officer. "Who's loony now?" 

Kendrick examined the mechanism 
in impatience, pressed that little but- 
ton repeatedly; but still nothing hap- 
pened. / 
"Try yours I" he told Marjorie 6nal- 

iy- % , 

She did so, with similar results — or 
lack of them, rather. 

"Something's wrong," he said at 
length. "The ray isn't working." 

"Wrong is right I" declared the of- 
ficer with a contemptuous flood of, to- 
bacco juice. "Yuh folks better go 
catch yuhr train 'fore yuh ferget where 
ii is." 

Chagrined, embarrassed, they took 
their leave, headed back toward the 
railroad station. 

"Of all the utterly silly things I" de- 
clared Marjorie, as they walked along. 
"Why do you suppose it didn't work?" 

Kendrick didn't reply at once. When 
he did, his voice was grave. 

"Because the disc has gone I" he said. 
"We- ire outside its zone of influence. 
That's my hunch, at least, and I think 
we'd better act on it." 

"You mean . . . ?" 

"I mean our escape has probably 



caused them to hurry their plans, 
They're probably over New York right 
now. I think we'd better get there the 
quickest possible way." 

THE result was that when the train 
came, they remained on it only to 
Tucson. There they chartered a fast 
plane and started east at once. 

At sunset the following day the 
plane swooped out of the sky and slid 
to rest on the broad grounds of the 
Blake estate at Great Neck. 

As Kendrick stepped from the cabin 
and helped Marjorie down, a tall, dis- 
tinguished-looking man with graying 
hair and close-cropped mustache came 
hurrying toward therm 

"Daddy I" she cried, rushing into nil 
arms. "Oh, Daddy— Daddy 1" 

Even without this demonstration, 
Kendrick would have recognized Hen- 
derson' Blake from pictures he had seen 
recently in the papers. « 

Now he was introduced, and Blake 
was gripping his hand warmly. 

"I don't quite know what this is all 
about, Professor," he. heard the great 
financier say. "Marjorie's telegram 
last night was as cryptic as it was over- 
joying. But I do know that I owe you 
: a deep debt of gratitude.' ' 

"Yes, and you owe Our pilot about a 
thousand dollars, tool" put in the 
daughter of the house, clinging to her 
father's arm. "Please -give him a,check 
— then we'll go inside and I'll explain 
all about it." 

"A --matter very much easier dis- 
patched than my debt to Professor 
Kendrick," eaid Blake, complying. 

The check was for two thousand, not 
one, the pilot saw when he received it 
"Thank you very much, sir I" he said, 
saluting. 

"Don't mention it. Good night— 
and good luck to you I" 

THE pilot returned to his plane, it 
lifted from the lawn, droned off 
into the twilight. 

Then they approached the cool white 
villa that stood invitingly a hundred 



THE FLYING CITY 



273 



yards or so away beyond sunken gar- 
dens. 

As they neared it, a handsome, well- 
preserved woman whose face reflected 
Marjorie's ow^ beauty came toward 
them. Lines of suffering were still 
evident around her sensitive mouth, 
but her dark eyes were radiant. 

"Mother I" 

"My poor darling !" 

They rushed into each other's arms, 
clung, sobbing and laughing. 

Kendrick was glad when these inti- 
mate greetings were over .and he had 
met Mrs. Blake. 

They were in the drawing-room now, 
listening to a somewfiat more lucid ac- 
count of their daughter's experiences 
and those of her rescuer. Marjorie was 
doing most of the talking, but every 
now and again she would turn to Ken- 
drick for verification.* 

"Heavens!" gasped Mrs. Blake, final- 
ly. "Can such things be possible ?" 

"Almost anything seems possible 
nowadays, my dear," her husband told 
her. "And you say, Professor, that you 
have brought back samples of this in- 
visibility device?" 

"Yes, we have, but I can't promise 
they'll work. I'll try, however." 

Whereupon, sceptically, he pressed 
that little square button — and instantly 
faded out of sight. 

"Good Lord I" cried Blake, leaping .to 
his feet. "That proves it I Why, this 
ii positively — " 

HIS remarks were cut short by a 
scream of terror from his wife. 
„ "Marjorie — Marjorie I" she shrieked. 

Wheeling, he faced the chair where 
his daughter had sat. It was empty, so 
far as human eyes could see. 

"Don't worry, Mother — Daddy I" 
tame a calm voice from it. "I'm quite 
all right — coming back — steady." 

And back she came, as did Kendrick, 
from the empty chair beside her. 

His face was grave. The success of 
the demonstration, which had proved 
their story to practical-minded Hen- 
derson Blake, had proved to him some- 



thing altogether more significant. The 
disc, as he had surmised, had rushed 
eastward immediately on learning of 
their escape, and was now probably 
hovering right over New York. 

"Marvelous — marvelous I" declared 
Blake. "But that heat ray, Professor. 
That sounds bad. You are convinced 
it is as powerful as they make out!" 

"Positively I That blast they let go 
in the desert would have utterly de- 
stroyed New York." 

"Hml Yes, no doubt you're right. I 
fully realize now the fearful menace of 
this thing. Do you think the military 
authorities will be able To; cope v/ith 
it?" * 

"I don't know. Perhaps, if they are 
prompt enough." 

"And is there no other way — no sci- 
entific way?" 

KENDRICK grew thoughtful. 
"I wonder," he said . at last. 
"There's just a possibility — something 
running through my mind — an experi- 
ment I'd like to make, if I had the fa- 
cilities of some large electrical labor- 
atory." 

"You shall have them to-morTowt" 
Blake promised. "I'm one of the direc- 
tors of Consolidated Electric. Their 
experimental laboratory in Brooklyn is 
the finest of its kind in America. I'll 
see that you have the run of it." 

"That will be very kind," said Ken- 
drick. "But don't expect anything to 
come from it, necessarily. It's just a 
theory I want to work out." 

A butler entered at this moment and 
announced dinner. 

"Well, theories are mighty these 
days I" beamed Blake, as they rose, 
clapping the younger man on the 
shoulder. "You go ahead with your 
theories — and I'll bringta few facts to, 
bear. To-morrow noon I'll e score some 
military men and others of my friends 
over to the laboratory to bear and see 
something of this menace direct. 
Meanwhile, and, during this crisis, it 
will honor me to have you as my 
guest" 



274 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



"Our guest I" amended Marjorie, 
with a warm smile. 

NEXT morning Blake motored 
Kendrick out to the Brooklyn la- 
boratory of the Consolidated Electric 
Utilities Corporation and installed him 
there. 

Then he left — to return at noon with 
the promised delegation of generals, 
admirals, statesmen and financiers. 

They were all frankly sceptical, 
though realizing that Henderson Blake 
was not a man given to exaggeration. 
Nor did their scepticism altogether 
vanish when Kendrick had ended his 
bizarre story with a demonstration of 
the invisibility device. 

Murmurs of amazement ran around 
the laboratory, it is true, but the more 
hard-headed of his spectators charged 
him with having invented the appa- 
ratus himself. Though they didn't 
come right out and say so, they seemed 
to imply that he was seeking publicity. 

Annoyedly, Kendrick tried to refute 
their charges. But even as'he was sum- 
moning words, refutation utter and 
complete came from the air. 

A low, humming Vbration Bounded, 
grew in volume till it filled the room — 
and as suddenly ceased. The light of 
mid-day faded to twilight. 

"The disc!" gasped Kendrick, rush- 
ing to the west windows. 

They followed, tense with awe. And 
there, between earth and sun, its myr- 
iad towers and spires refracting a 
weird radiance, hovered that vast fly- 
ing city. 

"My God I" muttered a famous gen- 
eral, staring as though he had seen a 
ghost. 

A great statesman opened his lips, 
but no words came. 

"Appalling! Incredible!" burst from 
others of that stunned assemblage. 

THEIR comments were cut short 
by a broadcast voice, thin and 
clear, tremendously amplified, a voice 
Kendrick recognized at once as that of 
Cor. 



"People of America!" it said. "We 
of the planet Vada have come to con- 
quer your country. You will be given 
forty-eight hours to lay down your 
arms. If complete ■ surrender has not 
been made by high noon, two days 
from now. New York will be de- 
stroyed." 

The voice ceased. The humming re- 
comenced — waned in volume till it 
died away. Twilight turned one more 
to midday. 

Peering fixedly through the west 
windows of the laboratory, the little 
assemblage saw the disc swallowed up 
in the clear blue sky. 

Then they turned, faced one anqther 
gravely. 

Outside, on the streets, confusion 
reigned. In newspaper plants, presses 
were whirling. In telegraph and cable 
offices, keys were ticking. From radio 
towers, waves were speeding. 

Within an hour, {he nation and the 
world knew of this; planetary invader 
and its staggering ultimatum. 

Naturally, the government at Wash- 
ington refused to meet these shameful 
terms. Military and naval forces were 
rushed to the threatened metropolis. 
The Atlantic Fleet steamed up from 
Hampton Roads under forced draught 
and assembled in the outer harbor. 
Thousands of planes gathered at 
Mitchell Field and other nearby ^air- 
dromes. // - 

tSuT where was the enemy? ^' 
J_? He must be miles up in space, 
Kendrick knew, as he toiled feverishly 
in the laboratory oyer his experiment 
after a sleepless night. For had that 
flying city been nearer earth, it could 
not have maintained invisibility with- 
out that peculiar humming vibration. 

Scout planes, .urged on by impatient 
squadron commanders, climbed till 
they reached their ceilings, searching 
in vain. They could encounter noth- 
ing, see nothing of the invader. 

Thus passed a morning of growing 
tension. 

But by noon of that day; with a bare 



THE FLYJNG CITY 



275 



twenty-four hours left before the ex- 
piration of the ultimatum, the disc 
came down, showed itself boldly. 

There followed stunning disasters. 

One salvo, and the ray shot down — 
the Atlantic Fleet, the pride of Amer- 
ica, burst and melted in flaming hell. 
Squadrons of planes, carrying tons of 
bombs, frizzled like moths in the air. 
Mighty projectiles hurled by land bat- 
teries were deflected off on wild trajec- 
tories. 

Appalled, the nation and the world 
followed in lurid extras these crushing 
defeats. 

By nightfall of that day, all seemed 
lost. All opposition had been obliter- 
ated. America must capitulate or 
perish. It had until the next noon to 
decide which. 

MEANWHILE, m that great 
Brooklyn laboratory, Kendrick 
was working against time, besieged by 
frantic delegations of the nation's 
leaders. They knew now that their one 
hope lay in him. Was he succeeding? 
Was there even any hope ? 

Face haggard, eyes bloodshot from 
lack of sleep, he waved them away, 
went on with his work. 
"I will tell you — as soon as I know." 
That was all he would say. 
Followed a night that was the black- 
est in all history, though the myriad 
•tan. of heaven shone tauntingly bril- 
liant in the summer sky. 

At length, as dawn was .breaking, 
Kendrick paused in his labors. 

There I" he said, grimly,, surveying 
in apparatus that seemed to involve the 
entire facilities of the laboratory. "It 
ia done I Now then — will it work ?" 

The delegation were called to wit- 
ness the test. 

Henderson Blake was among them, 
a was Marjorie. She stepped forward, 
a he prepared to make the demonstra- 
tion. 

"I know, somehow, you're going to 
be successful I" she murmured, press- 
ing his hand, meeting his eyes with a 
mile of confidence. 



"I hope you're right — Marjorie I" he 
replied, letting slip the last word al- 
most unconsciously. 

Her face colored warmly as she 
stepped back and rejoined her father. 

Kendrick's heart was beating fast as 
he turned to his instruments. How 
could he fail, with faith like that be- 
hind him? — love, even, perhaps I He 
mustn't fail — nor would he, if his theo- 
ries were sound. 

ADDRESSING the assemblage, he 
explained briefly the complicated 
apparatus. 

"The»e7towers," he said, "pointing to 
four steel structures about' ten feet 
high, arranged at the corners of a 
square roughly twenty feet across, 
"are miniature radio masts. The area 
enclosed by them, we will assume, is 
the city of New York. That metal disc 
suspended above the area represents 
the invader. It contains a miniature! 
heat-generator such as I was experi- 
menting with recently in the Arizona 
desert" 

He paused, threw a switch. Some- 
where in the laboratory a dynamo be- 
gan to whir. 

"I am now sending electro-magnetic 
waves from the four towers," he re- 
sumed. "But instead of broadcasting 
them in every direction, I am bending 
them in concave cathode of force over 
the city. You may picture this cathode 
as an invisible shield, if you choose, 
but it is more than that. It is a reflec- 
tor. If my theories are right, the 
radio-energetic ray I am about to proj- 
ect upon it from my miniature disc will 
be flung back to its source as though it 
had been a ray of light falling on a 
mirror. The success of the experiment 
depends upon what the result will be." 

• 

KENDRICK ceased, moved toward 
a rheostat. 
As he made ready to touch it, a 
breathless tension settled upon the as- 
semblage. Upon,tfae outcome of what 
was now to happen rested the fate of 
America — and the world. 



276 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



Calmly, though every fiber of his be- 
ing was at breaking stress, the young 
scientist opened the rheostat 

For an instant, the ray seared down 
— then, as it boomeranged back, the 
disc burst into flame, dissolved, disin- 
tegrated. A thin dust, like carbon, 
slowly settled to the laboratory floor. 

Cutting off. the current from the 
radio towers, Kendrick faced them, a 
light of triumph in his tired eyes. 

"You see — it works," he said. 

They saw. Beyond a doubt, it 
worked I 

And what Kendrick saw, as his eyes 
met Marjorie's, made him forget his 
fatigue. 

THE rest was a mad scramble of 
preparation. Only a few brief 
hours remained, and much was to be 
done. 

The application of the principle that 
had just been demonstrated involved a 
hook-up from the Consolidated Elec- 
tric laboratory with every broadcasting 
station in the metropolitan area, power 
being supplied by commandeering 
every generating plant within a radius 
of fifty miles. / «, 

The city, moreover, had to be evacu- 
ated of all but the few brave hundreds 
who volunteered to stand by their posts 
at radio stations and generating plants. 

As for Kendrick, it was the busiest, 
most hectic morning he had ever expe-' 
rienced. Only the realization of a girl's 
love and a nation's trust enabled binvto 
overcome the exhaustion of two sleep- 
less nights. 

At length, a little before eleven, all 
was in readiness. Just two questions 
troubled the young scientist's mind. 
Had the people of the disc learned of 
their preparations to counter the at- 
tack? And would the improvised 
broadcasting apparatus of the area 
stand the stupendous strain that would 
be placed upon it if the ray came down? 

The first of these questions was an- 
swered, staggeringly, at a quarter after 
eleven. 

"Kendrick— oh^, my God I" cried 



Blake, bursting into the laboratory. 
"Marjorie — they've got her again I 
Look I Read this!" 

He thrust out a piece of paper. Ken- 
drick took it, read | 

Your daughter will be my queen, 
after this noon. 

',• "Where'd you get it?" he gasped. 

"One of the invisible devils thrust it 
into my hand right out in the street, 
not five minutes ago," Blake explained, 
trembling with anguish. "Do you real- 
ize what this means, Kendrick? She's 
on the disc now — $nd in a scant three- 
quarters of an hoar. . . ." 

"Yes, I realize!" his voice came grim- 
ly. "And ^realize, too, that they don't 
know their fate. They'll stay. There'i 
forty-five minutes yet. We can't aban- 
don our defense against the ray, not 
even for Marjorie.; But I'll go, I'll res- 
cue her — or die with her I" 

And even as Blake mutely reached 
out his hand to grip that of the deter- 
mined young man who stood before 
him, Kendrick touched his wrist me- 
chanism and went invisible. 

ONCE Jon the street, he pressed the 
escalator button as well — and by 
the strength of the vibrations that fol- 
lowed, be knew he must be very close 
within that mysterious lifting zone. 

Running west a block, he found It 
growing stronger. 

Fairly racing now, he continued on 
toward the river, progress unhampered 
in the deserted streets. Suddenly, with 
a thrill of exultation, he felt himself 
swept up, whirled away toward that 
great shimmering hulk against the sun. 

"What hope?" he was thinking. 
"What possible hope?" And the answer 
came : Cor I 

Reaching the disc, he switched out 
the escalator influence and hastened 
across the city to that monumental 
structure of jade-green stoned 

The mighty little dwarf would be up 
there in his glittering mosaic apart- 
ment, or in his pinnacle laboratory, 



THE FLYING CITY 



275 



perhaps, ready to pull the lever that 
would release that stupendous blast of 
beat 

Gaining the jewelled door of the 
monarch's quarters at last, after escap- 
ing detection by a hair's breadth more 
than once, he pressed the button out- 
tidc, just as the guard had done that 
first time. 

In response, the door opened — and 
there stood Cor. 

HE stood there an instant, that is, 
while the expression on his 
leathery face went from inquiry to 
iLum. Then, as Kendrick burst into 
the room and shut the door, he went 
invisible. 

In that same instant, the young sci- 
entist's eyes beheld a Bight that caused 
his heart to leap. There sat Marjorie, 
bound in a chair, an expression half of 
bope, half of dejection, on her face. 

"It's I— Gordon I" he called. "Take 
courage I" 

"Oh, I prayed so you'd come — and 
you camel" she murmured as her face 
lighted. Then, tensely, she added, 
"The door — look out I" 

Kendrick wheeled, and just in time. 
The door was opening. 

"Not so fast I" he called, lunging. 

His hands gripped the dwarf, yanked 
him back, throttled him before he 
could emit a cry, pushed the door shut. 

Cor struggled like a madman, but it 
ma futile. Kendrick's hands cut into 
his throat like a vice. After a moment 
or two, he gasped, relaxed. 

Releasing his grip then, Kendrick 
felt for his wrist, stripped off his 
bracelet — whereupon the dwarf became 
risible. His face was putty-white. He 
wis either dead or unconscious. 

Restoring his own visibility then, he 
■dranced to Marjorie, swiftly freed 
btr. 

Take this I" he said, handing her 
Cora bracelet. 
She slipped it on. 

"Now let's tie him and get out of 
toe. He may be dead, but we can't 
lake any chances. 



THE dwarf wasn't dead, however, 
for he groaned and opened his eyes 
as they lifted him into the chair. 

"You win. Professor — but it avails 
you nothing I" He smiled maliciously. 
"My capture, my death even, will not 
prevent the ray. The orders have been 
given. It will be projected sharp at 
twelve. You but go to your doom \"y 
"That," said 'Kendrick, "is a' matter 
of opinion." 

Swiftly they bound him, gagged him. 
"And now," he added, "we wish you 
good day — and such fate as you de- 
serve I" 
Then, turning to Marjorie : 
"Your hand again I" i 
There was a new tenderness in its 
soft warmth that thrilled him.' 

They touched their buttons, went in- 
visible. 

Silently, then, they stole from the 
apartment. Swiftly they made their 
way down to the concourse, raced 
across the city to the amber court, de- 
scended to the trap-door. 

It must be nearly twelve, Kendrick 
knew. He couldn't look at his watch, 
for it as well as himself was invisible. 
-Indeed, even as they stood there, 
poised for the plunge, a faint whistle 
rose from below. 

Marjorie trembled. 

"Steady I" he spoke. "Some of them 
always blow a minute or two before. 
Are you ready ?" 

"Yes I" 

"Then press your button — jump!" 

Even as they leapt, the sickening 
thought came that perhaps the escala- 
tor ray was no longer running. But the 
fear was unwarranted. They were 
caught up, whirled gently downward. 

Moving along laterally, as they de- 
scended, they were able to land with- 
out difficulty" in the middle of a de- 
serted street near the Consolidated 
Electric laboratory. • 

"Thank heaven I" she sighed, as their 
feet touched solid ground. They 
pressed off both buttons, becoming vis- 
ible once more. 

"Echo,l" he agreed. "So let's—" 



278 ASTOUNDING STORIES 

1 

BUT Kendrick never completed worlds in impact, blinded by a gin% 

that sentence — for now whistles that made the sunlight seem feeble fa 

all over the metropolitan area, rising comparison, Marjorie and Kendrick 

from the generating plants, announced clung together, while the disc grew 

the ominous hour. into a satellite of calcium fire in the 

It was high noon. The ultimatum sky. 
had expired. Presently, as the conflagration 

Lifting tense faces to the disc, they waned, they opened their eyes. Grave- 

waited. Would that stupendous ray ly, but with deep thanksgiving, the* 

be hurled back upon itself? Or would searched each other's faces. In- theai 

it sear through their makeshift de- they read deep understanding, too, and 

fense, plunging them and the whole a new hope. 

great metropolis into oblivion? "I think we'd better go and find 

Suddenly, 'cataclysmically, the an- father," she said at length, quietly. 

swer came. "I think so too I" he agreed. 

There burst a withering whirlwind As they headed toward the labora- 

from the disc. It struck that mighty tory, a fine, powdery dust, like volcanic 

concave cathode of interlaced waves ash, was falling. 

above the city. There followed an in- It continued to fall until the city 

stant's clash of titanic forces. Then streets were coveted to a depth of an 

the cathode triumphed, hurled it back, inch or more^ 

Rocked by a concussion as of two Thus passed the menace of Vada. 



NO ONE, MUST FORGET 

/ That he has a standing 

invitation to 

"Come Over In 
'THE READERS' CORNER'" 

And join in the general 
discussion of stories, 
1 authors, likes, dislikes — 
everything pertaining 
to 

ASTOUNDING STORIES 

And Science-Fiction 



J/ie 



' J^eac/ers Cornc 

it 




~/^_Afeeting Place for Readers of~ 
Astounding Stories 



To the Rescue 

Dear Editor: 

I hope you can see fit to print this letter 
in the July issue of Astounding Stories. This 
tetter is written in defence of Ray Cummings 
and in reply to the letter of C. Harry Jaeger, 
2900 Jordan Road, Oakland, California. 

Following' is an extract of Mr. Jaeger's 
letter: "Also I like my authors to make an 
original contribution to whatever theory of 
ftdence they develop fictionally. This, Ray 
Commings docs not do in his very interest- 
ing story, "Phantoms of Reality." His be- 
filming is palpably borrowed from Francis 
Flagg's story, "The Blue Dimension," which 
■ppeared in a Science Fiction magazine in 
1927." Another paragraph is devoted to ex- 
plaining his claim. He claims that Cum- 
mings' method of transposing his characters 
from one dimension or plane to another is 
practically copied from Flagg's story. The 
method, mat is, not the narration. I hope to 
prove that if any* borrowing was done, is was 
done by Flagg. Incidentally, Flagg's story 
"The Bhie Dimension" was printed in 1928, 
■ot 1927, as Mr. Jaeger says. 

I have in my possession a story by Ray 
Commings named j'Into the Fourth Dirnen- 
■W and published) in another magazine dur- 
faf the last month of 1926 and first ones of 



279 



before Flagg's story — Cummings uses almost 
the Game apparatus of passing from one di- 
mension to another as is used in "Phantoms 
of Reality." I will not discuss whether this 
procedure is to be approved or not. 

This letter is not to be construed as an 
attack on Mr. Jaeger, or Mr. Flagg, or on 
either of the two stories under discussion. 

If Mr. Jaeger will' let me know I will send 
him Ray Cummings' story "Into the Fourth 
Dimension," as clipped from the magazines. 

I write this letter to the magazine, instead 
of Mr. Jaeger, so that if any one was misled 
by Mr. Jaeger's well meant bat mistaken crit- 
icism they will be straightened out. — Donald 
Coneyon, Petoskey, Michigan^ 

A Wish for Success 

Dear Editor: 

I have read both of your first issues. I am 
writing to say that I wish you success with 
your new magazine, which I know will suc- 
ceed. " 

Also to Bay I wish you would get more of 
the "Carries and Dr. Bird Stories" by Captain 
S. P. Meek, for I think everybody, including 
myself, likes them. I also enjoyed "Creatures 
of the Light."— Thomas D. Taylor, 415 So. 
7th St., Boise, Idaho. 

1927. And in this story — printed two yean 



280 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



No Kick Any More 

Dear Editor: 

I have been a reader of Astounding Stories 
ever since yon started it, and I guess I'm 
getting too particular aa I don't get the kick 
out of it any more that I did out of the first 
issues. That is, I don't get the kick out of 
ALL of the atones as I did at first How- 
ever, "Murder Madness" sure is a hot one. 
Why not print a story by Sax Rohmer, H. G. 
Wells, or some of them? — H. Els worth Jones, 
Box 840, R. R. t Battle Creek, Mich. 

Via Postcard ( 

Dear Editor: 

Astounding Stories is an astounding maga- 
zine. It has really astounding stories. It 
couldn't be bet$er. There's hardly room for 
improvement. May Astounding Stories be 
more astounding yet. I like itl — Monroe 
Hood Stinson, 1742 12th Ave., Oakland, CabV 
forma. 

Only Fiction! 

Dear Editor: 

I have just finished a story in the February, 
1930, issue of Astounding Stories entitled 
"Into Space," by Sterner St Paul. 

I would like to know if it is a true story, 
if -the actions described in it really happened, 
or Ms it merely a story of fiction. — Dan S. 
Scherrer, Shawneetown, 111 j 

Perhaps — Soon 

Dear Editor: * ^ 

I have just finished reading your new 
magazine. Astounding Stories. It is the best 
magazine I have ever read. Keep up the 
good work and you will find me a constant 
reader. I have only one suggestion to make: 
Let Astounding Stories come out every other 
Thursday.— Harold Kolko, 433 Palmer E., 
Detroit, Michigan. r 

More Preferences 

Dear Editor: 

I have read with great interest the second 
issue of Astounding Stories and note your in- 
vitation for readers to express themselves. 

I enjoyed the whole magazine, finding the 
literary quality surprisingly high. Especially 
good were "Spawn of the Stars," and ''Crea- 
tures of the Light." Harl Vincent's tale was 
the best of his I have read; and Captain 
Meek's are, always good. 'The Corpse on 
the Grating," however, was merely Poe'B 
"Fall of the House of Usher" done over, and 
not half so well- 
As for the sort of tales I like, here they 
are in order of preference: 

1. Tales of weird mystery — Merritt's "Moon 
Pool" and his others; Taine's "White Lily." 

2. Interplanetary Adventure — "A Columbus 
of Space," by Serviss ; "Th- Skylark of 
Space,** by Smith. 

3. "Different stories," tli*t defy classifica- 
tion, baaed on new ideas of science — most of 
Wells' short stories are examples. 



4. De tectiv e, Fourth Dimension, and afc 
adventure— only well done.— Jack WflHas*. 
son. Box 661 Canyon, Texas. 

A Brick or Two 

Dear Editor: 

For the last three years we have been 
reading any and all of the various Science 
Fiction magazines which have appeared upon 
the market We therefore feel that we are 
aa well qualified as anyone to offer the criti- 
cism and advice that follows. 

First the stories. We feel that it would 
be a good idea to get yoor stories from the 
same authors whose work has been and is 
being accepted by ihe otlier magazines in this 
field. In one case you have already done 
this, and I consider his stories to be the best 
in each issue. I believe that you will be 
forced to do this eventually, anyhow, became 
the people who read this magazine will nat- 
urally be readers of the others also, and will 
therefore, be used to the standards set by 
those publications. Then, you should have 
someone who is weU qualified to pass npon 
the science in the stories. 

Second, the cover, design and the pictures 
at the beginning of each story. Up to this 
time the cover and inside pictures have con- 
tained many mistakes. The cover of the 
March issue was especially atrocious. In the 
first place a voyage* in outer space would 
find it jet black and studded with stars, in- 
stead of b(ue and apparently empty, except 
for a few tremendously oversize placets, a 
moon with entirely* too many craters, and a 
total eclipse of the sun with a very much dis- 
torted corona visible beside the earth. Illus- 
trations by your cover artist also appear in 
another publication, but these are much su- 
perior to the ones In Astounding Stories. 
Here also a scientific advisor would be wel- 
come, f 

Third, I think it would be a good Idea to 
have a department in which the readers could 
write their opinions of the stories and suggest 
improvements in the conduct of the magazine. 

Fourth, I think there should be a scientific 
editorial in each issue by some eminent scien- 
tist. This is also a feature in the other maga- 
zines. 

We hope that you take these criticisms and 
suggestions, as they were offered, in good 
faith. We also hope that the circulation will 
increase as the magazine becomes better.— 
George L. Williams and Harry Heillisan, 
5714 Howe St, Pittsburgh, Pa. 

"WonderfuT 

Dear Editor: 

I received your magazine last week. 
Astounding Stories, and I think it is wonder- 
ful. I am very glad that I subscribed for it 
I can hardly wait to get the latest one winch 
I hoped to receive to-day and was very much 
disappointed when it did not arrive. I hope 
you will consider a quarterly or at least an 
annual in the near future. •« 

I wish you all success with this magazine, 
and hope you will forgive my writing you to 



THE READERS' CORNER 



261 



often in reference to your magazine. — Louis 
Wentzler, 1938 Woodbine Sl, Brooklyn, New 
York. 

—But We Made Our Bow 
Only Last. January! 

Dear Editor: 

Last month my boy brought one copy of 
this magazine home, and I want to ask you 
if you would send me the copies from hut 
January, 1929, op to December, 1929. If you 
charge no more than $3.00 would you send 
them C. O. D.? Do you have the issues for 
1923, too? * ' 

I never knew there was a magazine like 
that on the market. I never bought one be- 
cause most of them are no good, and when 
one has children one has to be doubly care- 
ful. 

But this magazine is just right. No silly 
love stories and mushy stuff in them. It sure 
keeps* your mind from unpleasant things. We 
can get them from the newsstand bat I would 
lik-. to subscribe for them. 

Keep up the good work and please send 
xnc the last year's copies and let me know if 
I could get 1928, too.— Mrs. H. Ristan, 4684 
No. Broadway, Denver, Colorado. 

"Best One Yet" 

Dear Editor: 
The April issue is the best one yon have 

Sut out yet. Arthur J. Burks is GOOD. I 
ope to see much more of him in the future. 
"Brigands of the Moon," by Ray Cummings, 
is getting better with each instalment. The 
stories of Dr. Bird are always interesting. I 
would like to see one in each issue, if you 
cculd arrange for it 

*>As long as the other jeaders like the size, 
of Astounding Stories, I will, too, but please 
cut all edges smooth like the latest issue of 
Five Novels Monthly. I would also like to 
see a fall-page illustration with each story, 
ard if possible by Wesso. 

I am glad that you are starting another 
serial in the May issue of Astounding Stories. 
I like serials and I hope that you will always 
have two in each issue. * 

Your schedule for the May issue looks 
good, and I'm sure it will be, with such au- 
thors as Murray Leinster, Victor Rousseau. 
Ray Cummings, Harl Vincent and Sewell P. 
Wright ; ^ 

I am still waiting for ? different colored 
cover. — Jack D arrow, 4225 N. Spaulding Ave., 
Chicago, Illinois. 

An Enthusiastic Reader 

Dear Editor: 

As a reader of Itfng standing of Science 
Fiction I feel I am qualified to malce some 
remarks and give my opinion of the wonder- 
ful Astounding Stories magazine lately put 
out. Although I read three other Science 
Fiction magazines none of them have aroused 
m me such^ a wonderful enthusiasm as 
Astounding Stories, Before I forget it I 



want to mention that I read two quarterlies 
also. 

The reason, or rather reasons, for my en- 
thusiasm I will now enumerate. (1) The 
stories are wonderful. (2) The binding is 
very strong and efficient. (3) The print is 
just right, add soothing to the eyes of one 
who reads much. The paper is good, and the 
size and price of the magazine is just right. 
The covers are excellent, and with the addi- 
tion of "The Readers' Corner" the magazine 
becomes absolutely perfect. Truly a wonder- 
ful start. See that it is kept up. The only 
thing that can still spoil the magazine is poor 
stories. Science Fiction stories that contain 
no science. x -v, 

In "Vampires of Venus" the plot was 
rather weak. Even if the Venerians knew 
nothing of .entomology, they should have 
brains enough to get rid of me vampires the 
way Leslie Lamer did without having to call 
an Earth man to help them. Another thing: 
the Venerians kept only insects that were not 
harmful to the crops. On Earth there are 
such insects who help the farmer by eating 
harmful insects. If the harmful insects were 
exterminated — an almost impossible and gi- 
gantic task— the harmless insects would 
change their diet and become harmful, too. 
And it seems funny, too, that such a highly 
civilized planet as Venus should still depend 
on domesticated animals for food, drink and 
clothing instead of manufacturing what they 
need synthetically. 

The April cover on your magazine was 
wonderful. 

Before I close I wish to say a word about 
the Science Correspondence Club of which I 
am a proud member. There is little] to say, 
however, after reading Conrad Ruppert's let- 
ter in the April issue. The membership has 
increased to over 300 now, numbering among 
them quite a number of famous scientists ana 
authors. All I can, say is that I hope every 
scientifically inclined person of whatever na- 
tionality, creed, color or sex they may be, 
will join this wonderful and rapidly progress- 
ing club. I will now close thanking the pub- 
lishers of Astounding Stories for issuing such 
a wonderful magazine. — Stan Osowski, 82 
Railroad St., Central Falls, R. I. 

But — Conniston Was An Impostor!^ 

Dear Editor: 

I read with interest Mr. Ray Cummings* 
story, "Brigands of the Moon," in the March 
number of Astounding Stories. The tale was 
a worthy one from the pen of so clever a 
writer. I do think, how&ver, that the auttior 
might have left out the point about Sir Arfljgir 
Conniston, an English gentleman, turning 
traitor. This sort of thing is hardly calcu- 
lated to bring about a friendly feeling be- 
tween England and America, the two great- 
est countries in the world. I have the 
greatest admifation for the United States, 
and though we may have a little fun at each 
other's expense, there is no ill feeling meant, 
but I really hope you will not publish sny 
other story like that one. — An Englishman, 
Montreal, Canada. 



282 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



Likes the Romance 

Dear Editor: 

I have just finished my second copy of 
Astounding Stories and "1 wish to say I have 
enjoyed every story. 

For some time T have been a reader of 
Science Fiction, but none will compare to 
Astounding Stories. These stones se'em to 
have the proper amount of romance in 
them to make them really interesting, and it 
adds the proper touch. 

I have no criticism to make. May I wish 
you a great success with this magazine. — 
Frank I. Sontog, 825 Prescott Ave., Scranton, 
Pa. 

High Praise » 
Dear Editor: 

Allow me to congratulate you upon the 
establishment of "The Readers' Comer.** I 
do not know which was the first issue of your 
delightful magazine, but I have been buying 
it regularly for quite a. few months. 

I may not be an experienced critic, but it 
can be easily seen by anyone that this maga- 
zine is one 'of the best on sale. I, for one, 
enjoy your stories more than any other 
stories I have ever read. 

I have just finished the second part of the 
four-part serial entitled "Brigands of the 
Moon." I think Ray Cummings is the best 
author I have ever met up with -in stories. 
The drawings are fine, the print is excellent, 
but I think the paper could be improved. But 
by no means change the size of your little 
magazine. The size is just right. 

In your April issue I read in "The Read- 
ers' Corner" about a Science Correspond- 
ence Club. Believe me when I say I'm send- 
ing immediately (or'tn application blank. I 
think the idea of this club is excellent 

Truly you have contributed a great gift Co 
Science Fiction readers in offering this maga- 
zine to the receptive public. — Theodore L. 
Page, 2361 Los Angeles Ave., Pittsburgh, Pa. 

"Don't Do It!" 1 

Dear Editor: 0 

This afternoon I saw Astounding Stories 
for the first time and immediately grabbed a 
copy, as I have read others of the Clayton 
group, and moreover am a Science Fiction 
fan?. 

The newsstand has no back numbers, and 
I simply must have the March 1930 issue, as 
I wish to read "Brigands of the Moon," so 
here is 25c. in stamps to cover purchase price 
and cost of mailing me a copy of that issue. 

Have you a complete file since Vol. 1, 
No. 1? If so, what is the cost including 
charges? I'm sorry that I missed this maga- 
zine before, but you can rest assured that 111 
miss no more. 

In the "Readers' Corner" I notice a call 
from Stephen Takacs for a change in size. 
DO NT DO IT I The size and shape are 
O. K„ and to make it the awkward size of 



most magazines (including two of the Science 
Fiction magazines that I am now a con- 
firmed reader of), would not improve it a bit 

You have two of my favorite authors in 
the April number; no, J. see it is three- 
Burks, Cummings and Meek. They arc O .It, 
but don't forget a few others, such as Bur* 
roughs, Verrill, Hamilton, Coblenta, Keller, 
Quinn, Williamson, Leinstcr, Repp, Vincent, 
Flagg — oh, why continue; you certainly 
\ know all the good authors of OUR kind of 
fiction; try them all. Of course, the other 
Science Fiction magazines that I take are 
full of stories by my favorites, but you can 
get stories by them too, 

From this one issue that I have read I can 
see only praise for your publication. Here's 
to a long life and a happy one. 

Don't forget to send me the March issue 
as fast as the mail can get it here. — Robert 
J. Hyatt, 1358 Kenyon St., N. W n Washing, 
ton, D. C. 

"Worst Ever Read'* 

Dear Editor: 

Since you invite enfticism as well as praise, 
I am impelled to state that by far the worst 
story I. ever read in any Science Fiction 
magazine was "Vampires of Venus," by An- 
thony Pelcher, which appeared in your April 
issue. ' It was so idiotic, so flat and inane, 
that it might have passed for a burlesque 
rather than a straight story, were it not pain- 
fully evident that the author was serious. 
The yarn was unworthy of Astounding 
Stories and did not belong in this magazine. 

The other stories, except for an amateurish 
attempt called "The Man Who Was Dead," 
were deeply engrossing and of unusual merit 
— Sears Langell 1214 Boston Road, New 
York. 

"The Readers* Corner" 

All Readers are extended a sincere 
and cordial invitation to "come over in 
'The Readers' Corner' " and join in 
our monthly discussion of stories, 
authors, scientific principles and possi- 
bilities—everything that's of common 
interest in connection with our 
Astounding Stories. 

Although from time to time the 
Editor may make a comment or so, this 
is a department primarily for Readers, 
and we want you to make full use 
of it. Likes, dislikes, criticisms, ex- 
planations, roses, brickbats, sugges- 
tions — everything's welcome here; so 
"come over in 'The Readers' Corner"* 
and discuss it with ail of usl 

— The Editor. 




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GOV'T. POSITIONS 

3 5 T0>75 WEEKLY 



( ) Br. Bf-iJI Clerk ( ) Btanft-TyplA 

< (P.O. laborer f • 1 

( ) H. F. D. ru-rlBT i 

( ) Aperls! Ai-nl ( > Auditor 
( ) Customs Imp. i ) Sltmo- Regret sry 

< ) City Hall Carrier ( ) U. B. Border Patrol 
( ) Mm Infractor ( ) Chanffsor- Carrier 

( ) P. O. Clerk 1 1 Watchman 

( I File Clerk j 1 Skilled Latorw 

( ) (kiuril Clank \ J Postmaster 
( ) Hatno i > Typist 

HUCTTON BO BEAU. I1I-B. Bt. Lonb. Ho. 

*~~ "* *-- " — To OnaJlrr (■» peal- 



»■ rKSTHOCTtriN BTJBKAU. I1I-B 
r - nltbV ate. ALL IttNfnEX, 



| Nuns 



AGENTS i2 AM HOUR 



Uons. Soape, eta. 330 fast sellers. Vrtn __ 
a. prospect- 9teedr repeat tnutnms. DianlAad, 
pleasant wwi. No experience or ifepLtal ra- 
goiicd. I abrjw you hw. 

$45 First 2 Day* 

Thai's Ducat's roocrd. Mn. IlackeU 



pcoSitblHUr*. Eernuics start at oncei 
Be. TCAir own bow — work full time or 
■para tine. Ford Tudor Sedan of' 
fared FREE to producers as extra 
bonus— In addrtien robli oub proflu. 
WrUe qulab lor details. 

albeit niJLs. aoa *«.. ti 



FARN MONEY 

■""^ a. -a- a s y~a aw M r~ 



YOU can mare $15 td $50 weekly In 
e car f uD timB at beano oil padnting 




1 No ewavwasriiM. We instruct yop by our i 
new asnpla Flwto-Coiar proceba, and. 
•apply jron with worthy outfit and 



culara and brwutiAiJ Free Book to-day. 
«mVINO-VANCK« 
lnHartBuadiog.'S 



Tbe imTNCVVANCK COMPANY Ltd. 

U Toronto, Can. 



HUM 



ITlufii Stcac/i/7/io/ia/ 



l a u ala a tiaipln" aW» tkJrt* 

TIm. Undanmr brinoa Uff eaah 
i .an mi— i n ia On* Tear OtaanntaB. 
No labatitodona. Pne aio Inldala. 
Mon exrludve Boas (iff featDrai m- 
toblith hadcnhlp. Write for fanr 
FREE Oatflt NOW! 
IlitaiFF SBIBT HIP. 



reus 

OWN 
MUSTS 

• ■. * 
TIES 



1237 



N. V. 



OutfiQr 



ORRECT f 
Your NOSE f 

Itaaia ta iwl ll» AjiitA Ko» *JJa« 

oniun of Un »o»-««Mt. pattj!^- "J? 
m Ham. ItanIU us lanlai. »»» 
Kn 1L Maw baU fiurut*. Gol« "■»» 
Wlnivr. WrlU f« ».0» TRIAL 0FFI1 
FREE BOOKLET. _ . 

AMfTA IHSTrrVTI. 




l'lt-asc mention Newsstand Group — Men's List, when answering advertisements 



[ FREE 
L SUIT 

Ik PLAN FOR 

|:9k Part Tims 
E®k MEN- 



Yoa can 



. Introductory plan for getting 7 your own I 

- — „ ■ , Our values and outfit beat I 

the wold. No experience needed. We ahow you how. I 
Write for Free Suit Offer and Big Money plan. 
HOIMMl* TAtUmma CO. wanatV-JM c 




earn up to $45 per week, many earn 

ing oar Big order-pulling tailoring outfit of 
ml oca. Introductory plan lor getting your own 




Ban*! an on* ONLY 
bard of oppor- 
tanllj for every- WC 

ona to develop 
bis nasal as end obtain 
anal it roc sib. br mint 
our aiaot Che* Erpender 
■ad Frofreanlre Enrtlur. 
Complete lust ructions with (tny ei- 
erriwr. Made ta cable form, as liltu- 
Irated below, la 3 ctmvenJent slse.*. H-- 
aUtsoce to 400 lbt. s cables for 89c. 10 cablet for 
Build yourself into jut what you want to be. 



•CRD HO MONET. 




rVssyassrrs Eicrcuer Co, 



a Stmt mi Breeiwar 
rWwTerhCat* 



"IN ONE DAY I MADE 




$23 



Writmm Mr: Clmuon 



Tou have (his ume opportunity. Reprewot 
moat beautiful guaranteed farmer' tou ever saw. 
128 style* ud colon. Flat it pu, i silk, raron, 
llale. etc Satisfactory wear auarariiead or new 
boss nee. Amailnily low pncis. 

NO EXraUBMCE NaT BDBD 

Mrs. aibbs repam sales of (100 the fine dar too 
worked. W«-uburg earned 1181 In cm s week. Pre- 
miums alien cu woman brims extra commissions. 
Saw Ford> siren Producers. Bonus be^ldrn. Hoia 
firen for bervmal use. Bend hone alia — todert 

WUtudt Healerf Company 
•iumiiu, o. 



ENLARGED 





TOBACCO 

it Overcome Or No Pay 

DO man and woman used Bbparha Karnwdj to help atop 



QrMtaa .Cigars, Pipe. Cbawuuj or Snaff. Wrtss far 
aj tnal Contaua no don or habit fanning drags. Coata CZ0O it 
•BBaaMaou»na Jooc SUPERBACO.. A-ia, Baltmorn, Md 





"What would I do 
if I lost my job?" 

Surma your employer notified yon tomorrow that fa a 
didn't need yon any loafer P Have too any Idea where yoa 
coold gat another position P 

Don't have this spectre of unemployment hanging over 
your head forever. Train yoorsalf to do noma on* thiol to 
well that your aervicaa will be in demand. Employers doa't 
discharge each men. Thay promoli them I 

Decide today that yoa are going to get the a penalized 
training you mnrt have if yon are ever going to gat — ami 
kttp — a real job at a real salary. It it easy il yoa really try. 

'Right at home, in the odda and end* of spare time that 
now go to watte, yoa can prepare for the position yoa went 
In the work yoa like best. For the later national Correspon- 
dence Schools will train yoa jut as they are training thou- 
aanda ol other men — no matter where yon lira — no matter 
what your circumstancee or your needs. 

Mail thm Coupon for Frmm Booklet 

I NT t^^TI0^~ CORRESPONDENCE SCHOOLS 
"Tie PaiswaoX l/nieerauV 
Bn 2IQ7-F, Sen cilia. Panes. 
Wlthnut cort or obUntlon, please lend me a copy of jam bal- 
let. "Wha Wins and Why." aiul full panlnUare about U» aubj^t 
btfert Mbicb I have marked X: 

TECHNICAL AND INDUSTRIAL COURSES 



Arrbltrrt 

Arciilirciunl Drariunan 
llulldlna EitlmaiUw 
Wood Mlllworklna 
ConTr«ct(ir ami Ilullikr 
Structural Draftsman 
Strunuril Engineer 
Electric Wlrlns 
Electrical Engineer 
Electric Uihllna 
Welitlna. Electric and Ou 
Hesdlnj Ship niusptlnt* 
Telcarjfh Engineer 
Telephone Wore 
Mechanical Enslneer 
Mechanical Draftsman 
MacblrJit □ Tuelroaker 
Cn Hern maker 
I'lprSiter □ Tlnimllh 
Itrtdae Enrlnecr 
Brtiice and llulldtne Foreman 

<iSS Engine! G UlCmcl Ellf <Ul-« 

j Aviation Engines 

BUSINESS TRAINING COURSES 



Auijui.Mla Mechanic 
Plumbing □ Minn Filling 
Healing tJVrnLililiga 
Sheet MeUl Worker 
Hteam Engineer 
Meant Fieri tic Enilnaer 
ClrlJ Enclneer 
Surreylni: ami Mapplnf 
Itefrlseritlon □lliuhwajEnclncrr 
R. H. Loromollrea 
H. D. Section Foramac 
II. H. Itrtdge and UuiUllm Forrn .m 
Air Brake* O Train Uncrj:.. i 
Ulshww Enflnrertna 
ChaoUttrr □ riiinnarr 
Coal Mining Eulnear 
NarlisUon □ BollennaUer 
Toil lie Ot eraeer or SupL 
CotUn lianuJacturliUt 
Woolen UanutacUiUia* 
A^rlcullura afruli Orowl^ 
I'auiirr rannlng □ BaJLi 
Marine Ens Inear 



Builneti Stinitf lufut 
Offlre Usn<Ecmi.-:ii 
lnduitrlal Uatujrmrnt 
l'vTiannel Manj^-meni 
Trafflc ManacriQera 
Atouur-UiarjuO-u Accountant ( 
C. r. Accountant 
Rookaeeplnt 
Mercurial Work 
Spaniili G French 
Salesmanship □ Adfertlalnf 



[ele Commarclal 

rim Eerrlca □ Mall Carrier 

ILaUwar Mall Oarai 

tirade School Subjects 

limh Schoul 6ubject| 4 

roTleie PreDartloiT _ 

llluimilna □ Cartoon Inr-b 

Lumber Ooalar 



OccupatMrj J 

// y<m tmidt in Canali, trn4 r*<« mupon In fX«f littrrmat.ontl Qw- 
rasavnJnfeM dciooJi ConodWn, Luiiltd. Mmlrtjl, Canada 



Please ^nentioti Newsstand Group— Men's List, when answering advertisements 



FOR THOUSANDS OF MEN 

*\Tobacco Habit 
Banished 

Lei Us Help You 





. craving tobaccoin any form. To- 
bacco Redeemer in moat cases relieves 
alicravinaforitinftfewdays' time. Don't 
try to auit the tobacco ha bit unaided. It's 
of ten a foeintr fight against heavy odds, and 
may mean adis treaamf shock to thenervous 
system. Let Tobacco Redeemer help the 
habittOQuityou. Tobacco users usually can 
depend upon this help by simply using 

■ Tobacco Redeemer according to simple di- 

■ rections. It is pleasant louse, acta quickly. 
B and Is thoroughly reliable. 

■ Net a Substitute 

I Tobacco Redeemer contains do habit-form- 
ing drugs of any kind. It Is In no sense a 
substitute for tobacco. After finishing the 

treatment, there should be no desire to use 
tobacco again or to continue the use of the 
remedy. In esTse the treatment is not per- 
fectly satisfactory, we will gladly refund 
any money paid. It makes not a particle of 
difference how long tobacco has been used, 
orinwhatform — whether it lacigars. cigar- 
ettes, pipe, plug, fine cut or snuff. Inmost 
cases Tobacco Redeemer removes altera ving 
for tobacco in any form in n very few days. 
And remember, ft is offered with a positive 



Dept. 793 CiaytaaStolMai St. Uats, H. 



G i*tc AVIATION 



FREE 
BOOK 




You T ^ 
Learn ^^^Bal 
AT HOME 

Famous War World Flyer now training 
man to (at Into Aviation RIGHT I Horns 
Study Course qualifies you In short time 
for Aviation Job paying 1300 to MOO 
monthly. Employment help. 

If Ton Want to Fly - 

Amazing, new plan offers actual 

Instruction, saving hundreds of ( 
Homo Study Tralnmg fits you for _ 
job on airport. You nay for tuition out 
of earnings. Scores of fellow, doing tt. 
No ek^erieooe or education needed. YOU 
must be over 18. Write for famous 
KKEE HOOK, wnich tella all. State 
Age. Major R. L. ROCKWELL. Dayton 
School si Aviation, Desk T-«, Dayton. 0. 



LEARN 
AT HOME 10 



RADIO EXPERT 



■.liiiiimi-oWi geS CSJi 




Wonderful, new device, guides your bind 
writing in a few days. Big improvement in 
hours. No failures. Complete outline FREE. 
C. J. Oainent, Dept. 87, St. Louig, Mo. 



Please mention Newsstand Group— Men's List, when answering advertisements 



producers can earn up to $100 1 
a week and more selling Gibeon I 
extra fine men's made-1,o-order all-wool suitsat | 
S23.50, direct to wearer. Most liberal commis- 
sions in advance, biggest values,. with bonus, to 

producers. Frequeat opportunities to get own clothes at at | 
cost Wc deliver and collect. 6x9 cloth samples, over 100 
Btyles and complete outfit in handsome carrying case fur- 
nished FREE to ambitious men who are wllliof to I 
husUe and earn up to $100 weekly. Write today. | 
W. LfaBS0N.ri^,5O0S.Thro»*pSt.. Psft TW CMM 



Five-Novels 
Monthly 

A DIFFERENT kind of magazine, 
designed to mast every taste and 
every mood. 

V 

Each issue has five complete nov- 
els; good, clean love stories, in- 
genuous and satisfying, with plenty 
of action and color. 



ADVENTURE 
MYSTERY 

ROMANCE 
•PORT 

WESTERN 
li 

Be sure to get the next issue! 
Five-Novels is on all newsstands 
the fourth Wednesday of 
month. 



mi 



25 Cents 



the Copy 



Play the Hawaiian Guitar 
like tHe Hawaiians/ 



MlMI**' U»ed in playine thin f Bedpatir>2 irntru- 
St. Our native Hawaiian int true ton t«ach'you to 
ZImit then* quickly. Picture! ihow bow. Every% 
opI».r-J dearly 



t»IV JE.W —a iWMt ton 
■AWAIIAH CUITAB. C arrying 




. -lit and 
P lay in a Out*.!— 
ViIm «i» to «ie 

rzIrat-mr-t<Jk\*0 \tv 1*4*4 
W tkonn i« h i mtnjc t ion oa Tow Bum, 
u,..i:UUIi, Bu/> Uksl*j*. w«& 



1 tp^^h&^S^SiStSS' 





YOU 

WANT A 

BIGGER INCOME 

SELL SHIRTS 



I Es/nblgmoocj&onidieatars. Let Qoarer help TOO. Woo- 
I derfol umple Ootfit gets ordcra. (tone Men'a sfiiru.Titi, 
I I'odarwtst. Hosier/. Unbeatable vetoes. Unique sales I 
i Ironclad (umn. FREE Sbieo. Ties, Cask 
. Write for Free- Ctatfit NOWI [Vft, K J 

»,iio7Bn»*; w ,M;v. 




FRENCH 

LOVE DROPS 

An with mt la 3 exotic perfume of Ins- 
alKtlblo charm, cltogltu for boura like 
lover* loath to put. Just a few 
drop* are enough. Pull atee boiile 
08a. prepaid or 11.39 C. 0. D. plua 
poetage. Di recti ana with erory order. 
FBEK: 1 foD etn bottle If you 

ST**.,! IVOR© CO. 

Box M, Vwlek Station. New York 
Dept. MSGS 



SONG WRITERS' 

•Hkl SUBSTANTIAL ADVANCE ROYALTIES 
»re paid on work found acceptable for publica- 
tion. Anyone wishing to write cither the words or 
music for 8onB3 may tubmit work for free ex- 
amination and advice. Patttxpmtnce unnanurji, 
New demand created by "Talking Pictures" 
fully described in our free book. Write for ft 
Today. NEWCOMER ASSOCIATES 
723 Earle Building, New York 

STOP Tobacco 

* tamaa brini can escape tb» harmful effects o 
w«t try to quit without aealetence. Lot our simple I 
natadj Wp you. A complete treatment coats bat 13 




of tobacco 
eoalw 
Erer? 



— — — wum wtut a muiicy vmc*. guanine 

Anti-Tobacco League 




Please .^lentk 



barfore. tiiw oorperwOct 
by dw »iUa ItweJ traiolni 

HM> toll 0,000 Aanually 
etep br *Uo. 1m rma tnen at 
■spare tuoa- It-mrmm of IX. 8. eoo- 
, __»tee in tr»«ry eectfca of lh« UmUd 
ii un naurfai, faifflCT I lailiae iwlpwe 



ELECTRICITY! 




f BE AN ELECTRICAL EXPERT^ 



-En electricity ia 12 weeka. Thouasi.de of dollars 

electric*] apparatua. Complete training (me»erytbing from door 
belli to power plantt. Radio. Aviation Electricity and Anto Elec- 
liical eourece Included without citrm charity. Fit yourself to 
cum TXU to MOO a month. Oct etnrted now— our employment de- 
psttnicnt wiU assist you to EARN WMILB YOU l£aRN and to 
nblepayjoboneraduatlori. Blyr newly enJarjred oouree. I allow 
your railroad fare to Chicago. , 

MAIL for FREE BOOK EtSttfttt'tSMK 



CtVYW. Electrical School 

Jlgj H.CliwW, Praiid.nl Founded UN 



500 SOUTH PAULINA STREET 



DEPT.C 



H. C. LEWIS, Pres. 

COYNE Ei-tCCTRtCAL SCHOOL. Dept. C 
BOO S. Pauline. Streot, Chicago, 111. 

PI*... »=i rw FRRF robots tSOmmi T-** I 



| 



il offer ef r*nr**4 



! 



r WANT 1 

A 

STEADY 
GOVERNMENT 
JOB O 



$1260 TO 93400 YEAR 
Men— Women— 18 Up ^'frahklim institute 

STEADY WORK .< r0C hE8TEr' M n y 
Paid Vacation. ^ 
Common Education 





BE A RAILWAY TRAFFIC INSPECTOR 




m 


Cam wp to *2*0 mMtMy. aatpewpa 

M»r. r mo are Madta la lb la bunaltaff, pi 
ill uf «aalini wfi*r» J on lt* pfawtiraJ'Y rear am 
■•• n*w fac« end pktejM awh ounata. H 

wert-.proBtouoo npTd. W<v tragi yep Jff 


atpwU 

■tjftaaW* 









tion Newsstand Ghoup— Men's List, when answering advertisements 



A New Body Awaits Yon 



HAVE you ever watched a magician 
pull wriggling rabbits out of a high 
hat? A '"wonderful trick, you say. 
Well, Earlc Liedcrman is a magician, but 
of a different sort. He builds health and 
strength- into your body in a miraculously 
short tune — and it's no trick. It took him 
over 20 years of planning and experiment- 
ing to do it— not with hit or miss method— 
for Earlc Liederman is a college trained 
man who works with a deliberate, analytical 
mind. People call him the Muscle Duilder 
because he lakes weak, run down bodies and 
transforms them into strong, virile, hand- 
some bodies in double-quick time — GUAR- 
ANTEES to do it and actually DOES do it. 
la tte Prlmr •* T#w Own ■ ■ ■■ 
To obtain the new body awaiting you, 
does not mean that you must exercise 24 
hours continuously. Earle Licderman's 
short-cut to healthy, handsome, broad- 
shouldered bodies* must be taken in 15 min- 
ute doses. If you exercised more than 
this in his high-pressure, quick development 
way, you would tear down more than he 
could build up. You can do his easy, scien- 
tific exercises in the privacy of your own 
room. . * 

'■Mm 




What a thrilling satisfaction you will get 
out of watching your shoulders broaden 
and your arms thicken and strengthen. How 
glorious it will be to feel your vest be- 
coming tighter around your chest and to 
watch your legs become muscular. There'll 
be no more leg fatigue when you climb 
stairs and you'll be the one who stfls the 
pace when walking. 

A Niw IHy-talM As W«I1 As Oat 

Your heart, your liver, your kidneys, your 
lungs — all your internal organs get the jolt 
of their, young lives when this sculptor of 
human bodies starts to work on them. Almost immediately they settle down to an orderly well- 
mannered functioning that means a new^kind of happiness for you— a new />ody— the joy of living 
that only a healthy, virile body can give you. And the headaches, constipation troubles, acbti 
and pains that are caused by a weakened, flabby body somehow miraculously disappear. 

Ymmm 9m It la I 

And lajfl your friends notice the difference I Just watch that girl you love so dearly open her 
eyes and fight to hoM your attention! And the men in your crowd — they'll look up.. to you as s 



EARLE LIEDERMAN, The Muscle Bulkier 

Author of "Muscle Building," "Science of Wrestling," 
"Secrets of Strength," 'Here's Htolth? 
"Endurance,'' Etc. 



real leader. Instinctively they worship strength and leadership that must ■ 1 these things, 
let Earle Liederman tell you all about it. All you have to do is 



Strife « 

lb MW 



3*9 Bnriiny, Hwm Ysrt City 
wlUwui any obllfsllon 
" roar Utst book. 
i writ* or prtnl 



But 



ITS FEE 

It contains forty-eight full-page photographs of hinwelj land 
some of the many pruo winning pupils he has trained. Some 
ol these csine to him u pitiful weaklings, imploring him to 
help them. This book will prove. an impetus tad re »I «- 
spiration lo you. This will not obligate you at all. but las 
sake of your future health and happjness do not po| 




Srad 
coupon tt> 



| OU ! 8uio | 



today — right now before you turn tits page. M 

EARLE LIEDERMAN 

D**t.l7««.3*f BROADWAY, MBWTI 



Please mention Newsstand Group — Men's List, when answering 




H£ TOM OFF HIS mil WHISKEttt- 

vflND IT WAS 



"Lucinda, my love, I knew you would 
be true. 'Tls I . . . your own Jack 
Delavcre!" "Jack," replied Lucinda 
blushing prettily, "must I confess? I 
recognized you from the first. That 
honey-smooth voice . . . those golden 
, . that perfect throat-ease can 



belong only to a man who smokes old 
GOLDS. You wag . . . you thought to 
confuse me, but nay !, J 
"The mild and mellow queen-leaf tobacco 
sets its OLD gold mark upon you as 
sterling upon silver. There's not a bark 
in a billion." 



OLD GOLD 



FASTEST GROWING CIGARETTE IN HISTORY 
^.NOTA COUGH IN A CARIOAD 




e p. MMflh 



Precious!